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Fifteen years after the Kansas City Power & Light District’s signs first flickered neon, the mixed-use entertainment district still hosts roaring crowds and brings unmistakable energy to a downtown core once defined by neglect.

However, that activity has not relieved Kansas City from multimillion-dollar annual debt service obligations that officials assumed, but did not expect, the city would have to shoulder, during district development approvals almost two decades ago.

What’s been the cost?

During Power & Light’s lifespan, through April 2022, Kansas City has picked up the tab on at least $167.1 million in total principal and interest payments, an average of $10.4 million a year, the Kansas City Business Journal determined through analysis of city financial reports.

Power & Light’s debt service stems from $295 million in bonds the city issued in 2006 to help Baltimore-based The Cordish Cos. build the eight-block, $350 million project. But in all except one fiscal year — 2008, which covered Power & Light’s opening — the cocktail of local and state sales, property and earnings tax revenues it pledged to pay off the bonds has fallen short.

The city’s payments have fluctuated, from about $6 million in fiscal 2022 — after officials agreed to partially refinance the debt, extending its term by seven years — to nearly $17 million in fiscal 2021, which began right after the pandemic.

Read more in the Kansas City Business Journal.