An outpouring of neighborhood support, including backing from the superintendent of the Center School District, led Thursday to approval of property tax abatement to redevelop the Red Bridge Shopping Center.
Board members of Kansas City’s Planned Industrial Expansion Authority voted unanimously to grant developer Lane4 Property Group the tax breaks that it said are needed to make the renovation feasible.
The south Kansas City shopping center, built by the J.C. Nichols Co. in the 1960s, has suffered from a loss of retail tenants and infrastructure neglect. The Lane4 group has a contract to buy the property and initiate renovations for a total investment of about $19 million.
The agency heard unusual support for the abatement request from Sharon Nibbelink, superintendent of the Center School District, and Jack Feldman, tax incentive specialist for Jackson County, two jurisdictions most affected by property tax breaks. Both praised the development group for holding multiple meetings to arrive at a plan.
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Nibbelink called the tax negotiations “an amazing experience” that brought together all parties.
“This is worth the cost,” she said.
She and other speakers noted the importance of maintaining property values, both residential and commercial.
Chase Simmons, an attorney representing Lane4, explained the approved abatement plan, which will keep property taxes on the 149,282-square-foot property at their current level for 10 years with the addition of a $30,000-a-year additional payment in lieu of taxes.
For years 11 through 19, the plan abates property taxes by 50 percent, reducing by six years an earlier abatement proposal.
Aside from a grocery store and day care center that are separate buildings on the property, the core retail center is currently nearly three-fourths empty and deferred maintenance problems exist.
“We want to fill the center and create jobs,” said Brandon Buckley, a principal with Lane4.
He referred to the company’s successful redevelopment of the Corinth Square Shopping Center in Prairie Village as a model for what the Red Bridge center could be.
Buckley said Lane4 also is working with a prospective tenant for another building on the property, a former bowling alley that now is vacant.
“Absolutely, no big-box store,” Buckley promised in answer to a question.