A group that challenged the downtown Kansas City convention hotel’s financing and petitioned for a public election has abandoned its cause.
The petitioners said Tuesday they had held several meetings and decided not to appeal to a higher court. That means planning and marketing of the $311 million Hyatt hotel project, to be built on land just east of the Bartle Hall ballroom, can proceed.
No time is set for groundbreaking.
“We’re looking forward to moving forward with financing for the hotel,” said Roxsen Koch, an attorney who is part of the hotel development team.
Mike Burke, who leads the hotel development team, said the developers would have further information “in the next few days.”
Ronnie Burt, president and CEO of Visit KC, the region’s convention and tourism agency, said, “This closes a step in the process. We’d been in a holding pattern. This allows us to move forward with talking to conventions” about the hotel.
“From a positive awareness standpoint in the trade, this puts us back on track,” Burt said. Visit KC has been working with large conventions interested in using the hotel in 2020 and 2021.
Dan Coffey, a leader of the petition group, said in an email Tuesday that “the attempt to force the city to uphold the city charter on the initiative process has ended.”
The petitioners had said it would cost them about $18,000 to appeal. They had 30 days from the judge’s Feb. 11 decision to ask her to reconsider. After that, they had an additional 10 days to ask the Missouri Court of Appeals to take the case.
The petitioners’ attorney, Jonathan Sternberg, said Tuesday that the groups’ reasons for deciding not to appeal were covered by attorney-client privilege and he couldn’t comment further.
Coffey and his group had gathered signatures to try to force a public election on the financing for the hotel. City officials said the petition came too late since contracts already had been signed.
The project involves significant private investment but also a substantial public contribution of land, tax-increment financing and concessions agreements. The city had refused to put the petition on a ballot, saying the election would cause the city to be in breach of contracts with the developer.
Mayor Sly James and others have strongly advocated for the new hotel, arguing it was a good and responsible financing deal and this would be the city’s first new convention hotel since the Reagan administration. City boosters said another large hotel was needed to keep Kansas City competitive for conventions and tourism.
“This verifies the city’s decision not to put this matter on a ballot, and that the laws under which we have planned to build this hotel are valid,” James said Tuesday. “I’m very happy Kansas City is now in a position to renew momentum on something we should have done a long time ago.”
Hotel supporters have said that the petition drive was costing the development months of time and likely delayed the hotel opening from 2018 to 2019. The hotel proposal was launched in May 2015.