Kansas City development agency leader Al Figuly is retiring at year’s end

05/15/2014 7:50 PM

06/03/2014 10:17 AM

The top executive at a development agency that’s sparred with City Hall over its reform plan for economic incentive programs is retiring at the end of the year.

The announcement by Al Figuly, the executive director of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, was approved unanimously by the board Thursday following a closed session. Figuly, 63, has run the development agency since 2003.

The agency was established by the state in 1967, and its board is empowered to offer up to 25 years in property tax abatement on the improved value of projects to stimulate development. The general guideline has been 10 years at 100 percent and 15 years at 50 percent, but it can be adjusted by the board.

The relatively low-profile agency has been a big source of tax abatement assistance for projects ranging from small historic rehab work to developing the billion-dollar replacement plant for the Honeywell nuclear weapons plant in south Kansas City. It’s also been a bit of a maverick, prizing its unique status as a state-chartered agency and separate location in the City Market.

Last year, Mayor Sly James demanded the agency participate in what’s called the Advance KC reform plan for economic development. Board members, however, initially balked at being lumped with other city agencies, including the Tax Increment Financing Commission, partly because of its state-chartered status.

In an unusual move, James appeared twice before the board last year to lobby it to join the Advance KC plan. The board ultimately decided in October to go along with the plan, which also required it to move later this year to the Town Pavilion office tower with the other agencies operating under the Kansas City Economic Development Corp.

As part of its compromise with the city, the board was allowed to continue with Figuly as its executive director.

In announcing his retirement, Figuly said it was not related to the Advance KC issue. He wants to devote more time to his other position as president and chief executive officer of the Greater Kansas City Foreign Trade Zone.

“The workload is pretty intense getting things worked out with the new office of the PIEA over the next several months as we wind down the operation,” Figuly said.

In other matters, the agency:

Approved initiating a blight study required for an expected request for a property tax abatement to assist the proposed $60 million redevelopment of the historic Power & Light Building at 14th Street and Baltimore Avenue into 270 apartments and a garage.

The exact amount of the abatement on the additional tax value of the project being sought by the developer, NorthPoint Development, has not been determined, but the tentative estimate is 30 percent. The project also is expected to seek tax increment financing assistance.

Approved a blight study conducted for a proposal to develop two apartment projects proposed by Cityscape Residential of Indianapolis for the Quality Hill area. The developer intends to seek a 25-year tax abatement on the improved value of the project, 10 years at 100 percent and 15 years at 50 percent.

The projects are Apex on Quality Hill, a 130-unit development between Case Park and the HNTB office building at 715 Kirk Drive, and Summit on Quality Hill, a 256-unit development south of 12th Street straddling Pennsylvania Avenue.

Approved sending warning letters to three developers who have not met the affirmative action goals established by the city for their projects. Goals for hiring minority- and women-owned businesses are established when firms receive tax incentives to assist their development.

The projects determined noncompliant are the One Light apartment tower being built by the Cordish Co., the Brookside Senior Living project being built by Landmark LLC, and the River Market West apartments being built by River Market Apartments.

To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send email to kcollison@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at kckansascity.

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