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Advisory board recommends tax incentives for Three Light

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Years ago, downtown Kansas City living wasn't as desirable as it is today. As new buildings go up and projects receive support from Kansas City taxpayer money, some residents say the focus should be on affordable housing throughout Kansas City instead.

Wednesday morning, several neighbors spoke out against tax incentives for the Three Light building before the Chapter 353 Program, an advisory board.
Construction is expected to on the luxury apartments early next year. City Council will have the final say on breaks for the developer.

Jan Parks is part of the Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform. Wednesday, she spoke against tax incentives for Three Light before the advisory board.

"We feel like they do not need 100 percent abatement," Jan Parks said.

Parks also said if there is a tax break, it should only be for a 15-year period and no longer.

Three Light will go up in the space next to Two Light. Despite concerns from people like Parks, the advisory board voted to recommend tax abatement for Three Light to the Kansas City Council. The recommendation was for 100 percent real property tax abatement for 25 years.

"The developer would be required to pay PILOT, which is a payment in lieu of tax, which could effectively drop the assistance to 75 percent rather than 100 percent," Steve Hamilton, Chair of the Chapter 353 Program said.

Parks says that's still too much, and with an affordable housing crisis in Kansas City, luxury apartments don't need a break.

"Here in Kansas City, you have 1,920 public housing units and we are 98 percent occupied," Edwin Lowndes, Executive Director, of the Housing Authority of Kansas City.

Lowndes says there's about 12,000 families on the wait list for public house and housing choice vouchers (Section 8) combined.

"Luxury housing has a place for people that can afford that," Lowndes said. "The families that we serve typically their income is less than $12,000 a year."

Although Cordish, Three Lights developers will use the Midlands building to construct apartments for those with low to moderate income, Jan Parks says she wants to see more togetherness.

"Our problem with that is we consider that segregation," Parks said. "If we want to be a progressive city we should be to the point that we should be doing mixed housing."

There isn't a date yet for when the advisory board's recommendations for Three Light's tax abatement will go before the city council.