For some on the KC council, patience on the convention hotel is wearing thin

A rendering of the proposed downtown convention hotel.
A rendering of the proposed downtown convention hotel. KC Hotel Developers

So what’s happening with that convention hotel in downtown Kansas City we keep hearing about but never see?

That’s what a couple Kansas City Council members wondered on Wednesday, enough so that they refused to consider a minor item related to the convention hotel during a meeting of the Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee.

They said they wouldn’t take up the item until they learn more about what’s keeping work from starting on the $310 million project.

“I’m certainly curious as to where we are,” said Kansas City Councilwoman Katheryn Shields.

KC Hotel Developers LLC in 2015 announced they would build a 800-room Hyatt that was supposed to be well under construction by now.

Shields said she understood that groundbreaking was supposed to occur in late September or early October.

“We are now at the 25th of October,” Shields said.

Hotel and city officials indicate that the project is still on track, just no longer for an October groundbreaking. December is more likely at this point.

Shields and Heather Hall, two of the five members of the Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee, said Wednesday they didn’t want to vote on a communication — an arcane parliamentary item that council committee usually accept with no discussion or debate — associated with the convention hotel.

“How is it they could do a groundbreaking if they have not yet met the requirement of the contract to showing the financing,” Hall said.

It represents another delay in starting construction on the hotel. Time is running short; Shriners International is supposed to have its annual convention, which is expected to attract 20,000 visitors to Kansas City, in early July 2020.

The original construction timeline when the project was announced in 2015 was that work would begin in early 2016 with the hotel opening in 2018. But various complications have delayed the start of work on the hotel.

Citizens For Responsible Government, a resident watchdog group, held up the project with a lawsuit that tried to put tax incentives tied to the project to a public vote.

But there was also a title problem with the city-owned property where part of the hotel would be built at Baltimore and 16th streets. The rest of the property on the block was owned by the American Hereford Association.

Officials with the developer have said for more than a year that they’re close to finalizing a deal to buy the property, but real estate records show that the American Hereford Association still owns the property.

Earlier this year, the development team switched from Hyatt to Loews as the operator for the hotel.

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt

Colleen Nelson and Dave Helling of the Star's Editorial Board talked with development attorney Mike Burke, representing KC Hotel Developers LLC, about the group’s proposed 800-room convention center hotel during a Facebook Live show Wednesday afte