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Higher sales taxes will be applied to room rates at Crown Center hotels

Crown Center’s public spaces, the site of many festivals such as the Irish Fest, will get maintenance and improvement funds through a higher room tax approved for the Westin and Sheraton hotels at Crown Center.
Crown Center’s public spaces, the site of many festivals such as the Irish Fest, will get maintenance and improvement funds through a higher room tax approved for the Westin and Sheraton hotels at Crown Center. skeyser@kcstar.com

A plan to finance improvements at the Westin and Sheraton hotels at Crown Center won unanimous approval Thursday by the Kansas City Council.

The ordinance redirects part of the city’s convention sales tax — collected on room rates at the two hotels — to provide up to $15 million toward an estimated $30 million worth of interior renovations in the hotels.

Stacey Paine, president of Crown Center Redevelopment, owner of the properties, said renovations were necessary to provide the updated rooms expected by the convention industry but that the hotels couldn’t afford them on their own.

The ordinance also authorizes a Community Improvement District that will add a 1-cent sales tax for 30 years, assessed solely on the room rates in the two hotels.

The CID revenues will pay for maintenance and improvements of Crown Center’s public spaces, including the parking garages, skywalks, sidewalks and landscaping.

The ordinance sped through the city’s planning process. The council’s Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee had voted 5-0 Wednesday to advance the measure to the full council within a day. No one spoke against the ordinance at the committee’s public hearing.

Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said she favored the proposal because the new room tax will be paid only by people who stay overnight at the hotels rather than assessing Kansas City taxpayers.

The two hotels also agreed to a room-block provision in which they will commit a certain number of rooms to Visit KC to help with large conventions. Crown Center also agreed to commit $250,000 a year in the years 2018-2024 to the city’s new Shared Success Fund to encourage redevelopment in underserved parts of the city.

Implementation of the sales tax is expected to take three to six months.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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