Supporters say new downtown hotel will be major boost for city’s convention business

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City's Planning and Zoning Committee is bringing a new downtown hotel closer to reality.

The downtown area will soon look much different after the KC Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee passed an ordinance that will allow a convention hotel to go forward without input from the voters.

"We have been promoting this project for two years since May of 2015 when it was first announced KC was going to build a convention center hotel," said Ronnie Burt

Ronnie Burt with Visit KC said this is a huge win for Kansas City's convention business, which this year is expected to bring the city over $180 million in revenue.

The new hotel will be between Truman and 16th Streets, and Baltimore and Wyandotte downtown.

Visit KC works to bring business to town, but Burt said the biggest block to his success is the lack of downtown hotel space.

"The nice thing about the street car, all the downtown amenities, the newer restaurants, the vibrancy, it is putting us in a competitive position to win more business," he said.

"The accelerated effective date on this ordinance, which they are trying to pass through today -- I notice nobody has mentioned that -- is nothing more than to get it by the council so that nobody can challenge it," said Dan Coffey with Citizen for Responsible Government.

A group representing Citizens for Responsible Government argues that under this ordinance, the voters do not get to weigh in and the private investors are not at this time being disclosed.

The city is contributing $180 million dollars in land, cash and tax abatements, developer J.E. Dunn is coming up withe the remaining $165 million from private investors.

"Questions are, who are these financial partners? Are they members of the city government? Are they friends and family of city government? Those things come up and creep up."

"There are rules that keep all of us from being able to benefit from a deal like this one. I don't think there is anyone at City Hall who is getting an individual kickback or benefit or else the FBI would figure that one out," Burt said.

Although the city's Planning, Zoning and Economic Committee passed the ordinance by a unanimous vote, the final say is up to a vote by the full city council which will take place tomorrow.

City Hall insiders said there are more than enough votes for the full council to pass it, so it is pretty much a done deal. J.E. Dunn will break ground in the end of September, the hotel should be completed in 2019.

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