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Opponents of downtown convention hotel upset voters will not get say in project using tax dollars

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Developers could get the green light to move forward with building a new downtown convention hotel Thursday.

The City Council is expected to vote and approve the final details for the Hyatt hotel they want to build at Truman and Baltimore, across the street from the Convention Center.

Supporters are thrilled there will soon be 800 more rooms for those who visit Kansas City, but opponents are upset voters will not get a say in a project where tax dollars are being used.

The total cost of the project is around $345-million.

The city is contributing $180-million in land, cash and tax abatements while developer JE Dunn gathers the remaining $165-million from private investors. The identities of those private investors are not being disclosed, and that is concerning to some who want to know if they have ties to the city government.

"The only way we can be sure about where the money is coming from is if we had it fully funded by the public, and I don't think we want a $300-million hotel that is paid for by KC taxpayers," said Quinton Lucas, 3rd District At-Large. " And so we decided to have this private model that is really pushing the deal."

City officials say it’s a non-issue, and after two years of planning, it’s time to move forward.

"Since we are fronting a big part of this money, the citizens of KC should know who the partners are and what risk we are taking on," said John Murphy, Citizens For Responsible Govt.

This hotel will be the first built in downtown KC in 32 years, and it’s expected to attract more conventions and more business to come to Kansas City.

Opponents of this hotel are continuing to gather signatures on a petition to try to force a vote this fall, but council members will vote Thursday to move forward.

If it passes as expected, they hope to break ground in September and open in sometime in 2019.