The developer behind Kansas City's Power & Light District is one step closer to getting incentives to build Three Light, the third in a series of luxury apartment towers.
Members of a City Council committee voted 3-2 on Wednesday to give Cordish Companies tax incentives to build Three Light, a luxury highrise planned to the west of the company's Two Light tower. The City Council would still need to approve the deal.
Cordish Companies, based in Baltimore, struck a deal with the city in 2004 to provide incentives for downtown development and has developed much of the Power & Light District, including the entertainment and retail destination at its heart.
"We're happy to be taking another step forward with Three Light and look forward to continuing to invest in downtown," said Nick Benjamin, a Cordish executive in charge of the Power & Light District.
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Benjamin told the committee the company plans to start construction on the 300-unit building early next year and open Three Light in 2021.
Incentives for Three Light had come under some scrutiny from officials and residents who argued that Cordish had already received incentives for One Light and Two Light and didn't need them again to compete with apartment towers it had built. Cordish argues that it can't make the $130 million project work without incentives.
Jan Parks, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform, argued that the abatement would subsidize luxury housing while leaving behind vulnerable Kansas Citians.
"A vote for the abatement is a vote for elites over the disadvantaged," Parks said.
If the current deal gets council approval, Cordish will receive a 100 percent property tax abatement for 25 years, partially made up for by payments Cordish makes to the city. A large portion of those payments would go directly to taxing jurisdictions within the city, such as schools, mental health programs and libraries.
Under pressure from the City Council, Cordish also agreed to convert the Midland office building at 13th Street and Baltimore Avenue into 100 apartments for low-and moderate-income tenants in exchange for a $17.5 million grant to subsidize Three Light's parking garage. Kansas City agreed to build parking garages for each apartment tower in the 2004 agreement.
The Chapter 353 Advisory Board last month voted 3-1 in favor of the incentives, but it recommended that the city conduct a certified review of construction costs and rents to determine whether the project still needs incentives. It also said the city should require an audit five years after Three Light opens to determine whether the building needs additional assistance moving forward.