Kansas City Council members remained sharply divided Thursday over a proposed $27.6 million for 18th and Vine, so a vote on the funding was delayed for a week while they try to reach a consensus.
Third District Councilman Jermaine Reed, the prime mover behind the funding request, had sought the council vote Thursday. But after discussion revealed concerns about the level of public funding and debt, Reed instead moved to delay the vote for a week.
“There’s always compromise in politics,” Reed said. “I’m looking forward to working with my peers to develop the right type of financing.”
In a business session before Thursday’s legislative meeting, Mayor Sly James raised a key question about public funding for the 18th and Vine Jazz District.
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“This only works if it is intentionally directed towards stimulating private investment,” James said.
Other council members also questioned why the city was making such a significant commitment without guarantees of private funds.
City Manager Troy Schulte said he thought the city’s $27.6 million commitment could possibly be reduced by as much as $9.5 million from private developers. But he and Reed acknowledged that’s not ensured.
Councilwoman Katheryn Shields suggested the city could start with a much smaller commitment of about $2 million to gain control of some key properties and then test the waters for private developers.
Third District At-Large Councilman Quinton Lucas said more council negotiations were in order.
“This gives us another week to work it out, and I think to perfect the project and make it a better one,” Lucas said.
The proposed improvements include $4.2 million for the Buck O’Neil Education Center, $1.7 million for the American Jazz Museum, $1.8 million for a Friends of Alvin Ailey headquarters, $5.6 million for new 18th Street retail and apartments, $4.9 million to stabilize and improve historic Vine Street buildings, $1.2 million to restore the Boone Theater, $1 million for a plaza and fountain at 18th Street and The Paseo and $3 million to beautify 18th Street and create a better connection west to the Crossroads Arts District.