Downtown Business Owners Not Happy with Streetcar Plan

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, officials may be pushing for a new downtown streetcar system, but many business owners along the Main Street Corridor say that they aren’t happy about it.

According to a report in the Kansas City Star, some business owners are complaining that they are going to be expected to pay for a big chunk of the proposed system, but aren’t getting much of a say in the matter. Now, some are even saying that unless some big changes are made to the plan, they will actively campaign against it.

Under the $100 million proposal, the city would construct a 4.4 mile round-trip starter streetcar route from the River Market to Crown Center. The route would be paid for using a combination of city and federal funds, the local community, riders and advertisers.

The plan also calls for the creating of a special taxing district in which 1,000 downtown business owners would face a property tax hike in addition to a 1 percent sales tax hike.

The district must be approved by voters.

According to the Star, Crown Center would face a $500,000 tax increase, while DST would have to pay $1 million more each year in taxes under the proposal.

“My biggest concern is taxation without representation,” downtown property owner Brad Nicholson, who owns about 40 parcels in the Crossroads Arts District including the historic TWA building at 18th and Main streets, and the 17-story Mainmark building at 1627 Main St, told the Star.

“The people who vote on it live in the apartments and lofts,” Nicholson said. “The people who pay don’t have a say. I’ve always been a supporter of streetcars, but it’s a community asset, and having business owners pay for it is problematic.”

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