Developer drops Plaza Hyatt plan, may pursue office project

A controversial plan to build a luxury Hyatt hotel at the Country Club Plaza with the help of tax incentives has been dropped and the developer is now considering an office building instead.

The $80 million proposal for a 225-room hotel development at 46th Terrace and Pennsylvania Avenue was introduced last summer to the Kansas City Tax Increment Financing Corp. Critics immediately pounced, saying incentives should not be used to subsidize a luxury hotel they believed would draw business from existing hotels in Plaza the area.

But developer Steve Block of Block Real Estate Services, said the decision to scrap the hotel plan was due to the difficulty of making the project, which would have included a restaurant and office space, financially viable.

“We’re all heartbroken we can’t get the numbers to work, but the price got so expensive that there was no amount of TIF or subsidies we could have asked for with a straight-face that ever would have got us there,” Block said.

The project was to have been jointly developed by Block Real Estate and Hyatt Hotels Corp. Block owns the property where the project had been proposed, now the site of the Victory Court Apartments at 4622 Pennsylvania.

Hyatt also wanted to return to the Kansas City market after losing its flag at Crown Center a year ago after running the hotel there for 30 years. The property is now being operated as the Sheraton Crown Center.

“We’re horribly disappointed and the Hyatt people are horribly disappointed, but the economics didn’t work,” Block said. “There were too many difficulties to develop on too small a piece of land.”

The concept had called for building a 12-story development that would have included a four-level rectangular base with two floors of office space above a two-level, 300 space garage. The fifth floor would have included meeting rooms and a terrace overlooking the Plaza.

All of this would have been developed on the site of a 37-unit apartment complex developed in the 1950s. The proposed development also was immediately north of Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist at 604 W. 47th St.

Block said a new, less complicated plan is being prepared that calls for a 150,000- to 200,000 square-foot office building and associated structured parking.

“We’re in the process of reviewing design schemes and marketing it with potential tenants,” he said. “I want to come to the city with a deal that’s straight-forward and simple.”

Block said the height of the potential office development would not exceed the nearby 10-story Valencia Place building at 444 W. 47th St.

While the office concept is still in the planning stage, Block did say city tax incentives will likely be required to help subsidize the cost of building a parking garage.

To reach Kevin Collison, development reporter, call 816-234-4289 or email kcollison@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @kckansascity.