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Old 12-14-2007, 07:00 AM   #103
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City Council approves Bannister redevelopment

http://www.kansascity.com/business/story/402902.html

By KEVIN COLLISON
The Kansas City Star A soccer-oriented redevelopment plan for the beleaguered Bannister Mall area, touted by backers as the salvation of south Kansas City, was approved unanimously Thursday by the Kansas City Council.All drama ended Wednesday, when Mayor Mark Funkhouser dropped his objections to using a special tax incentive called super tax increment financing to support the $949 million redevelopment plan. Even so, supporters packed the council chamber to support the final consideration of the Three Trails plan.

“We are convinced this will turn our area around,” said Councilman John Sharp, whose district includes the closed Bannister Mall. “We are convinced it will do for south Kansas City what The Legends shopping center did for western Wyandotte County.”

The plan calls for demolishing Bannister Mall, Benjamin Plaza and a former Wal-Mart and resurrecting an area that has been in economic decline for years.

The developer, Lane4 Property Group, wants to build an 18,500-seat soccer stadium for the Kansas City Wizards; a 12-field tournament soccer complex; a 250-room hotel; up to 1.1 million square feet of retail; and up to 1.7 million square feet of office space.
“Voting yes makes real a field of dreams — soccer dreams,” said Councilwoman Cathy Jolly, who also represents the area. “It is our time, and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

The project will require $273 million in tax incentives and other assistance from the city and state, about 29 percent of the eventual cost. The most heavily subsidized part of the project is the first phase — the construction of the soccer stadium, amateur soccer complex and the hotel.

The Wizards want the city to own the facility, but the team would be responsible for maintenance, capital repairs and any operating deficits.

While the mayor expressed support for the project, he was unwilling until recently to back the super TIF assistance needed both to support its financing and trigger the additional state aid required.
Last-minute negotiations intended to minimize the city’s risk persuaded him to accept the extraordinary tax incentives.

Notably, the development group, which includes top Cerner Corp. executives, did not seek to use the city’s creditworthiness to back bonds for the project, a tactic that the city’s new economic development policy opposes.

“Thank you for working with me to get us to a position where I am able to support this and still feel in good conscience,” Funkhouser said. “What we’re doing in the long term is good for Kansas City as a whole.”
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