The Kansas City Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee voted 4-0 Wednesday in favor of The Kansas City Star’s request to extend the tax abatement on its downtown printing facility.
The full council is scheduled Thursday to consider the request to extend the 10-year property tax abatement for the Oak Street press plant that ran through 2014. The proposed amendment provides for tax relief for the full 25 years allowed by statute, through 2029.
Without the additional abatement, the Star’s tax payment would increase by nearly five times over the 2014 taxes, to $700,000 in 2015 and 2016, and to $1.3 million beginning in 2017.
With the extended tax relief, The Star would pay about $337,000 annually as a payment in lieu of taxes and a streetcar special assessment for 15 years. Taxing jurisdictions, including Jackson County and the Kansas City school board, would receive more than $300,000 of that tax money and did not object to the proposal, said Roxsen Koch, an attorney for the Star.
The committee’s endorsement came despite an advisory board’s recommendation against approval. The Chapter 353 Advisory Board voted 3-0 in late June to reject The Star’s proposal, saying it did not provide for new redevelopment to cure blight, which is a focus of the Chapter 353 law that helped The Star build the press plant a decade ago.
Koch said, and the council committee agreed, that the 353 law was also intended to prevent the return of blight, which was a risk if the annual taxes made the facility prohibitively expensive for The Star to operate.
Committee members said they consider the press plant to be an “iconic” building downtown and they didn’t want to risk having it vacant, causing a recurrence of blight in the neighborhood.