A redevelopment plan that would restore the historic luster of the Savoy Hotel and Grill while making it a destination for art lovers was endorsed Wednesday by a city development agency.
By KEVIN COLLISON
The Kansas City Star
The project to revive the six-story hotel and restaurant at Ninth and Central streets is being pursued by 21c Museum Hotels, a hotel operator that has won national accolades for its work in Louisville. The Kansas City Tax Increment Financing Commission unanimously endorsed its redevelopment plan.
The company plans to spend $47.5 million renovating the red-brick hotel that opened in 1888 and the 1903 addition that houses the Savoy Grill. The total value of the development, including interest costs over the 23-year life of the TIF plan, would be $89.2 million.
The redevelopment plan, which has the backing of Mayor Sly James, now goes to the Kansas City Council for consideration later this month or early in November.
The redevelopment calls for $11.7 million of the overall cost to be reimbursed by future tax revenues through a standard TIF and $18.7 million to be reimbursed from future revenues through what’s called Super TIF assistance. The Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association also will have to review the request for Super TIF incentives.
A similar tax incentive package had been approved for earlier redevelopment proposals for the Savoy. Those plans, however, failed to move forward.
To soften the impact on several smaller taxing jurisdictions, the Savoy developer also has agreed to a special payment that will initially be $15,000 annually and grow to $25,000 annually during the life of the TIF plan.
Those entities benefiting are the Kansas City Public Library, Metropolitan Community College, the Jackson County Mental Health Fund and Jackson County Services for the Developmentally Disabled.
Craig Greenberg, president of 21c Museum Hotels, said that if the incentives are approved, construction is expected to start next year. The project also is seeking state and federal historic tax credits. A report to the TIF Commission indicated the firm would have a 6.9 percent return on its investment with the incentives.
Greenberg praised the support from the TIF Commission and said the hotel would “help attract visitors from around the country.”
Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, founders of 21c Museum Hotels, opened their first venture in downtown Louisville in 2006 based on their passion for urban revival and love of cutting-edge art.
That formula helped the 21c Louisville get the nod as the nation’s top hotel in 2009 and 2010 from the readers of Conde Nast.
The 90-room Louisville hotel attracts 150,000 people annually, many to simply enjoy the art displayed in its 9,000 square feet of gallery space. The works are done by living local, national and international artists.
The art comes from Brown and Wilson’s collection, along with works borrowed from other museums, collectors and galleries.
“We truly merge a boutique hotel with fine food and beverage and a contemporary art museum,” Greenberg said.
The company has opened two other hotels since, a 156-room historic property in Cincinnati and a new 104-room hotel in Bentonville, Ark.