A three-story, 48-unit apartment development proposed for the corner of 17th and Madison streets has become a lightning rod for Kansas City residents who opposed property tax abatements or who fear change in the Hispanic character of the West Side.
Developer EPC Real Estate introduced the plan last fall and later downsized its scope in response to residents’ concerns about density, traffic and parking. But the company has continued to seek a property tax abatement to defray the costs of building an underground parking garage, which would keep tenant parking off the already packed streets.
Steven Coon, EPC’s co-CEO, said there are four “viable options” the company could consider, starting with the current plan, which, he said, can only go forward if the property tax abatement request is approved.
Company officials said they are willing to meet further with the taxing jurisdictions to discuss payments in lieu of taxes that would reduce the effect of abatement on the county, school district and other entities that rely on property tax revenue.
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The plan seeks a 100 percent abatement for 10 years, followed by a 50 percent abatement for 15 years. Current property taxes on the site generate about $1,200 a year, which would continue to be paid.
A second option, if abatement isn’t approved, would be for EPC to downsize the project even further, perhaps to 30 apartment units, and not build a parking garage. That option, Coon noted, would create more surface or on-street parking — something that nearby residents and business owners don’t want.
A third option would be to “let the property sit and do nothing,” he said. The one-acre property has been partly vacant since the 1950s and has a decaying barrel-roofed warehouse that has been vacant for about three years.
Coon said the company’s fourth option would be to sell the property, which EPC bought last fall for about $600,000, to another developer “and see what they do with it.”
West Side residents and city development officials in favor of the redevelopment said they appreciated EPC’s willingness to hold repeated meetings, listen to the community’s concerns and downscale the original plan.
But Jan Parks, representing the Coalition for KC Economic Development Reform, said that beyond neighborhood gentrification and parking concerns, her citizens group is opposed to any “luxury apartments qualifying for 100 percent tax abatements.”
The next public meeting among neighbors, developers and City Council members will be July 13. Prior to that, the interested parties are to meet for further discussion to see if agreements can be reached.