Time is running out to register for Downtown Office Summit

View of Downtown Kansas City from the rooftop of the Corrigan Building, 19th & Main, home of the Downtown Office Summit meeting on July 12.

The Downtown Council of Kansas City
invites you to attend the
Downtown Kansas City Office Summit
two weeks from today @ 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 12,
Corrigan Building, 1828 Walnut
Cocktail reception to follow at 5:30 p.m. on the Corrigan rooftop (weather permitting)

Mayor Sly James

 The Honorable Sylvester James, Mayor of the City of Kansas City,
will deliver opening remarks: 

The City’s perspective on the future of office development in Downtown.
What are the City’s plans (or vision) to facilitate future growth?  

 Market Overview
E. Gibson Kerr, Vice President, Cushman & Wakefield
Michael Klamm, Managing Director, CBRE
Recent Market Activity
What are the opportunities and obstacles? 
What are tenants looking for in today’s market?

Jon Copaken, Principal, Copaken Brooks
Dave Harrison, President, VanTrust Real Estate
Bryan Johnson, CEO, Colliers International, Kansas City
Troy Schulte, City Manager, City of Kansas City, Missouri
Downtown Office Manager
Downtown Office Tenant 

Moderator: Steve Vockrodt, The Kansas City Star

 Limited seating available. Registration closes, July 7th 


For more information, contact Julie Shippy, jules@downtown.org

Thank you to our sponsors:

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum receives $1 million from MLB & Players

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Downtown KC received a $1 million donation from the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball. The announcement was made at the museum this week. Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred (from left), MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark and Bob Kendrick (right), president of NLBM, helped unveil the symbolic check. Photo courtesy of The Star.


The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Downtown Kansas City received a substantial gift this week from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and players association executive director Tony Clark were at the museum in the historic 18th & Vine jazz district on Wednesday to announce a $1 million donation to the NLBM. Clark proposed the idea to Manfred of creating a partnership with the museum about a year ago, according to The Kansas City Star and reporter Josh Tolentino:

“Whenever you try to rebuild something like rebuild African-American participation in our game, you need a great foundation,” Manfred said. “The foundation of our effort with respect to African-American players had to be an effort to make young players understand the Negro Leagues, understand the significance of the Negro Leagues to African-American history and more broadly, to American history.”

The $1 million donation (split evenly between the MLB and MLBPA) matches a gift from Julia Irene Kauffman as the biggest in the history of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

“Both entities have been supportive the museum over periods of time,” NLBM president Bob Kendrick said. “But this is the first time that we’ve sat down and looked at a cooperative kind of collaborative relationship.

“As much as we’re excited by the amount of the check, I’m more excited that the commissioner was here and that Tony was here, because I think this help gets the message out this is not just a charitable contribution — this is a partnership.” Click here to read the complete story in The Star.

Grand opening ceremony welcomes Atlas to Downtown

City Manager Troy Schulte, right, was among the first to tour the Atlas residential building during a grand opening ceremony last week. The property features 16 unique living units in the Crossroads.Downtown Council members and stakeholders gathered last week to celebrate the grand opening of Atlas, the latest residential property in Downtown KC, and to welcome prospective tenants and guests.

Atlas Lofts, 1509 Walnut, is a fully restored boutique property artfully blending old world charm and modern amenities. It features 16 superbly appointed, one-of-a-kind units. Nestled on the northern edge of the creative hub of the Crossroads Arts District, Atlas is one block away from the KC Streetcar, a neighbor to Sprint Center, and in easy walking distance to the heart of Downtown.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of Atlas, the latest residential property in Downtown. Participants included principals Jason Swords, Sunflower Development; Jeff Krum. Boulevard Brewing; Jay Tomlinson; Helix Architecture + Design; City Manager Troy Schulte, Crossroads champion Suzie Aron; and Councilwoman Jolie Justus.

More than 60 guests turned out for the Downtown Council’s grand opening ceremonies that included remarks from Jeff Crum, CEO of Boulevard Brewing Co. and a principal in the Atlas project, along with City Manager Troy Schulte, and City Councilwoman Jolie Justus.

The Downtown Council played host to a grand opening celebration of the restored Atlas building at 1509 Walnut last week.

Designed by a noted Kansas City architect in Romanesque Revival style, Atlas was constructed in 1902. It first housed the Grand Avenue Storage Company, then Atlas Storage and Transfer, followed by the Berlau Paper Company, before falling into a period of neglect and decline.

Today, the magnificent structure—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—has finally found its true calling. Every unit in Atlas is unique, each possessing its own exclusive features and a variety of today’s hottest amenities.

A partnership by principals from Sunflower Development, Helix Architecture+Design and Boulevard Brewing came together in 2015 to acquire the property and charted a bold new course, affecting a complete restoration in keeping with the rigorous standards established by the Department of the Interior.

For more information about living and leasing at Atlas, visit atlas-kc.comgo to leasing@atlas-kc.com or call 816-533-5609.

City Council clears path for Downtown convention hotel

The planned Downtown convention hotel would be located immediately east of the Convention Center in the heart of Downtown. (Photo courtesy of The Star.)

The Downtown KC convention hotel has moved one critical steps closer to reality.

The City Council approved an ordinance last week that convention hotel planners say is the last legislative approval needed to aim for a groundbreaking by early October, according to The Kansas City Star on June 8. Council members voted 11-2 to pass the measure that includes an accelerated effective date to proceed on what has been presented as a $310 million hotel.

According to The Star, the proposed 800-room tower — for the area bounded by Truman Road on the north, Baltimore Avenue on the east, 16th Street on the south, and Wyandotte Avenue on the west — was publicly announced in May 2015 but had been discussed since 1999.

The ordinance sets the size of a Community Improvement District according to those boundaries, approves the zoning and development plan for the site, and permits an elevated walkway across Wyandotte.

Councilwomen Heather Hall and Teresa Loar voted no on the grounds they hadn’t seen enough financial information about the project and didn’t want to risk taxpayer funds.

 Mayor Sly James countered that there was no risk to the city, there is no commitment from the general fund, the city is not guaranteeing the bonds, and the city will not operate the hotel or take a possible loss on it.
The city is donating land for the project and is allowing hotel and guest taxes paid within the hotel district to make up part of the financing package.

The project, backed by the mayor, City Manager Troy Schulte, most of the council, and a development team headed by attorney Michael Burke, was delayed partly by a petition drive and lawsuit filed by group opposed to financial participation by the city.

Burke said investors are lined up and that JE Dunn, general contractor for the hotel, has delivered a preliminary guaranteed maximum price, a figure necessary to take bond sales to market.

The development team said bond counsel will be ready within a few weeks to sell more than $100 million in bonds to help finance the project.

To read the complete story, visit KansasCity.com.


Crossroads to launch Downtown high school at Park U. urban campus

Crossroads Charter Schools will open a Downtown High School at a temporary location on the Park University Downtown campus beginning in fall 2018. (Courtesy of The Star.)

The dream of a Downtown Kansas City high school is about to become a reality.

Earlier this year, Crossroads Charter Schools, a network of three schools in the heart of Downtown Kansas City, Mo., revealed the launch of Crossroads High School. Today, Park University and Crossroads announced a partnership for Crossroads High School to utilize the University’s Downtown Campus Center as its temporary home through July 2019.

This fall, the first class of 30 Crossroads High School freshmen, along with five faculty and staff, will occupy three of the University’s classrooms during the day on the third floor of the Commerce Tower redevelopment at 911 Main Street. Crossroads anticipates 70 more students will be added for the 2018-19 academic year while a permanent high school building is prepared to open in fall 2019. Also, as part of the partnership, Crossroads students will have opportunities to visit the University’s flagship campus in Parkville, Mo., to gain additional exposure to college life.

Crossroads will host an open house for its students and parents on Friday, June 9, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Park’s Downtown Campus, to provide a sneak peek of the opportunities they will have to engage in the downtown community and its accessibility to the city’s streetcar line, which has a stop outside the building.

“We are excited that Crossroads students will expand their studies in this newly renovated, high-tech, university setting,” said Dean Johnson, executive director of Crossroads Charter Schools.

Crossroads opened its first elementary school in 2013 in an office building in Downtown Kansas City and by 2017 enrolled roughly 570 students in kindergarten through eighth grade in two Downtown locations.

“Park University is excited to work with Crossroads Charter Schools as it expands to provide education to high school age students,” said Kena Wolf, associate vice president for campus center operations at Park. “These students give the University a unique opportunity to partner in creative and innovative ways, and support our mutual desire to bring convenient education opportunities to the downtown community, which Park has provided since 1974.”

Kirsten Brown, a current teacher at Crossroads, will be the founding principal of Crossroads High School. For more information about Crossroads Charter Schools, visit www.crossroadsschoolskc.org/.

To read more about the Crossroads High School announcement, visit The Kansas City Star at http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article152737769.html and The Kansas City Business Journal at http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2017/05/25/crossroads-high-school-temporary-location.html.

Founded in 1875 in Parkville, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City, Park University is a nonprofit, private institution that is a national leader in higher education. In 2000, Park achieved university status and now serves 17,000 students annually at 40 campus centers in 21 states and online, including campus centers in Parkville, Independence and Downtown Kansas City, Mo.; Austin and El Paso, Texas; Barstow and Victorville, Calif.; and 33 military installations across the country. www.park.edu

Crossroads Charter Schools, which opened in Downtown Kansas City, Mo., in 2012, prepares and inspires students to build a better tomorrow by providing an academically rigorous K-12 education in a creative, collaborative, community-focused environment. Crossroads Academy – Central Street, is a K-8 school at 10th and Central, and Crossroads Academy – Quality Hill, is a K-3 school at 11th and Washington. www.crossroadsschoolskc.org


Safety Escort Service available daily from CID Ambassadors

CID Ambassadors provide free Safety Escort services seven days a week to Downtown workers, residents or visitors.Community Improvement District (CID) Ambassadors are dedicated to providing a strong and comforting presence in the Central Business District and River Market seven days a week.

“The ‘bumble bees’ patrol the Central Library, Ride KC and KC Streetcar stops, the City Market, 18th & Vine, key intersections, streets, parking lots and special events welcoming more than 80,000 workers, 24,000 residents and 25 million visitors every year,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs.

And, they provide personal, safety escort service upon request.

Safety Ambassadors provide assistance through our Safety Escort service by walking residents, employees and visitors in the Downtown area to and from their car and workplace or residence. The CIDs provide this service between the hours of 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

“While the Downtown area is statistically safer in the terms of crimes against individuals than other places in the City, the CID Safety Ambassadors are committed to helping anyone feel more comfortable walking the sidewalks at any time during the day,” Rowlands said.

“Besides, the Ambassadors have outstanding personalities and the conversations are sure to be polite, positive and interesting.”

The CIDs have logged nearly 8,000 Safety Escorts since the Downtown CID was launched in 2003, including nearly 1,600 last year alone.

To request this free public service, call the CID dispatch at 816-421-5243 during office hours, or 816-820-3475 during evenings or early mornings.


‘Entrepreneur’ ranks KC as 4th hottest for startups in U.S.

Kansas City ranks #4 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s latest list of the hottest startup markets in America.

Entrepreneur Magazine has selected Kansas City as one of nine,hot startup cities – no. 4 to be precise – that are not New York or San Francisco. KC is one of only two Midwestern cities on the top nine listing.

“Ask someone to name cities with thriving tech, media, fashion or food scenes, and you’ll hear the usual suspects: San Francisco; New York; Portland, Ore.,” Entrepreneur.com reported today. “But there’s a slew of other metro areas with established infrastructure and skilled work forces that can match those more established locations at a fraction of the cost of living and with less day-to-day stress.”

Entrepreneur’s list of the U.S.’ hottest startup marketplaces include: Salt Lake City, Baltimore, Nashville, Kansas City, Sacramento, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Houston, Boston and Los Angeles.

“These are the places where startup dreams come easier and cheaper, but can still pay off big,” Entrepreneur Magazine reported. “Start packing.”

‘Start packing’ is precisely the message echoed by LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs based in Downtown Kansas City.

LaunchKC is looking to award $500,000 in grants to nine startup businesses that choose to build their enterprises in Kansas City, Missouri. The winning nine businesses will be selected through the LaunchKC competition that is accepting applications online for 50 more days!

Now in its third year, LaunchKC is a platform for attracting tech entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses to establish/grow emerging enterprises in Kansas City.

A few new wrinkles in the LaunchKC competition this year include:

  • Introduction of a $100,000 grand prize grant to be awarded on Sept. 15
  • LaunchKC judges will hear pitches from 20 competition finalists at Techweek KC on Friday morning, Sept. 15, and select 9 recipients of $50,000 grants who will be introduced that evening.
  • During the awards ceremony, one of the 9 recipients will be selected to have his/her grant doubled to $100,000!

In its first two years, LaunchKC has pumped $1 million into the Kansas City tech space through $50,000 grants awarded t0 a total of 20 entrepreneurs from 6 states and 3 nations!

LaunchKC grant recipients not only will earn cash grants, but also one year of free working space in Downtown Kansas City; industry-specific mentor teams; and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders from KC.

So, who will compete at Techweek Kansas City in September? Who will win the grants in 2017?

You can’t win at LaunchKC if you don’t apply. And, LaunchKC has 50,000 (or more) reasons why you should go for it … within the next 50 days.

Applications for the 2017 LaunchKC grants competition are available online. The window will remain open until midnight on Friday, July 7, 2017.






CIDs leverage PIAC funds to build & grow healthy neighborhoods

The Downtown and River Market Community Improvement Districts are committed to growing Clean, Safe and Green neighborhoods in Downtown KC.


While Clean & Safe has long been the mantra of the urban Community Improvement Districts, they have been joined in recent years by Green, which represents a commitment to beautifying Downtown and the River Market.

Green takes roots in large and small patches of Kansas City’s urban corridors and is nurtured by the green thumbs of the CID Landscape Ambassadors, who focus their attention on flowers, trees and streetscapes.

The Green initiative – now in its eighth year – is made possible by a partnership with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, which awards Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) funds to the CIDs to make these improvements to the urban landscape.

PIAC has awarded $2.25 million to the DCID and RMCID ($175,000 and $75,000 per year, respectively) over the course of the last eight years to fund these improvements.

“Our Green efforts represent great partnership with the City, a lot of hard work and a complete labor of love for the CID Landscape Ambassadors,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs. “All of the time, money and effort is dedicated to the beautification of Downtown and the River Market for residents, employees and visitors.”

The CID PIAC Scope of Services grid (below) illustrates the volume of improvements made over the years by the Downtown and River Market Landscape Ambassadors:




Cue the countdown: 60 days left to apply for LaunchKC grant

Erika Klotz, center, CEO of Pop Bookings, one of 20 tech startups to earn grants from LaunchKC over its first two competitions. Applications are open for 60 more days before the 2017 contest.

Cue the countdown – there are only 60 days let for you to apply – or spread the word to potential applicants – for a slice of the $500,000 in LaunchKC grants. The application window closes on July 7.

LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, is in hot pursuit of the best and brightest business startups to apply for  half a million dollars in non-dilutive grants that will be awarded during Techweek Kansas City on Sept. 15.

Now in its third year, LaunchKC is a platform for attracting tech entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses to establish/grow emerging enterprises in Kansas City. LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City working in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, is an economic engine in the City’s tech/startup ecosystem.

A few new wrinkles in the LaunchKC competition this year include:

  • Introduction of a $100,000 grand prize grant to be awarded on Sept. 15
  • LaunchKC judges will hear pitches from 20 competition finalists at Techweek KC on Friday morning, Sept. 15, and select 9 recipients of $50,000 grants who will be introduced that evening.
  • During the awards ceremony, one of the 9 recipients will be selected to have his/her grant doubled to $100,000!

In its first two years, LaunchKC has pumped $1 million into the Kansas City tech space through $50,000 grants awarded t0 a total of 20 entrepreneurs from 6 states and 3 nations!

LaunchKC grant recipients not only will earn cash grants, but also one year of free working space in Downtown Kansas City; industry-specific mentor teams; and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders from KC.

So, who will compete at Techweek Kansas City in September? Who will win the grants in 2017?

You can’t win at LaunchKC if you don’t apply. And, we have 50,000 (or more) reasons why you should go for it.

Applications for the 2017 grant competition are available online. The window will remain open until midnight on Friday, July 7, 2017.

Just ask Erika Klotz, CEO of PopBookings – grant winner from 2015.

Apply todaythe application window will close in 60 days!

Special thanks to LaunchKC sponsors:

  • Strategic: Missouri Technology Corporation, City of Kansas City, Missouri, William T. Kemper Foundation, Techweek
  • Visionary: Kansas City Power & Light District, UMB Bank
  • Contributing: Burns & McDonnell, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, Kansas City Power & Light, Lead Bank, Missouri Department of Economic Development, Polsinelli, Downtown Council of Kansas City, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City
  • Contributing: J.E. Dunn Construction, Lathrop & Gage, Marriott Kansas City Downtown
  • Supporters: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers; Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Think Big Partners, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management

Click here to learn more about becoming a LaunchKC sponsor.

KC Streetcar rolls to 2 Million & $2 Billion milestones

Downtown not only celebrated the first birthday of the KC Streetcar yesterday, but also some major league milestones for performance and economic impact..

Saturday’s party celebrating the first year of operation for the KC Streetcar took on even more prominence with confirmation that a staggering 2 million rides have been reached and the economic development underway in the area has soared past $2 billion.

Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte led a host of supporters who gathered at Union Station to recognize the positive impact KC Streetcar is making in Downtown, the City communications team reported this weekend.

“We’ve said from the start that the streetcar was about more than just transit,’’ Schulte said. “Fixed rail generates economic development, and combined with the city’s investment in smart city technology, we are building a tax base that will benefit residents citywide both now and in the future.”

Kansas City has more than two billion dollars in economic development underway within the boundaries of the KC Streetcar TDD, or Transportation Development District. As of May 2017, this includes more than $2.1 billion in development projects completed, in progress or publicly announced since voters approved the streetcar in December 2012.

The Downtown Council continues to work closely with the City and the Streetcar Authority to track and report the economic impact of the streetcar.

The streetcar has been immensely popular with Downtown business owners, as well as local patrons and tourists who routinely praise the clean, smooth rides and the free Wi-Fi. Original forecasts of 2,700 for average daily rides were blown away by an actual average of 5,500 over the past 12 months.

Planners predicted Kansas City’s system would reach 1 million rides by its first anniversary. However, that mark was reached in October. Ridership naturally dipped in December and January, but April was the third busiest month behind July and August of last year.

A few noteworthy achievements so far include:

  • 97 percent of businesses surveyed along the route credit the streetcar with having a positive impact on their business
  • 2 million rides since May 6, 2016
  • Sales tax receipts in the TDD has grown 58 percent since 2014, outpacing citywide growth of 16 percent for the same period
  • Winner of 2017 American Council of Engineering Companies Award
  • Winner of 2016 Envision Platinum Sustainable Infrastructure Award
  • Winner of 2016 American Institute of Architects KC Community Impact of the Year Award

“Today we hit an amazing milestone, our 2 millionth trip in our first year of service, making the KC Streetcar system one of the most productive streetcar systems in the entire county,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the KC Streetcar Authority.  “Even more important than the strong ridership, the system is fueling an economic renaissance in downtown and that is incredibly exciting for all of Kansas City.”

To read more about the KC Streetcar celebration on Saturday and its impact on the City and Downtown, stop by The Kansas City Star.


Missouri Senate passes funding for Downtown Arts Campus

The UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance cleared a major hurdle today when the Missouri Senate passed HCR 19, which includes half ($48 million) of funding necessary to build its Downtown Campus for the Arts.

The UMKC Conservatory Downtown Arts Campus has cleared a major hurdle in its race for approval.

The Missouri Senate has approved HCR 19 – authorizing the issuance of public bonds for half ($48 million) of the financing of a new UMKC Conservatory Arts Campus in Downtown – by a vote of 28 to 4. The Downtown Council received word of the vote just moments after the vote from Warren Erdman, our Downtown Arts Campus champion.

This is, indeed, an “incredible victory” for Missouri, the University and for Kansas City. We share Warren’s “deep gratitude” to Senators Holsman, Silvey, Kehoe, Kraus, and many many others.

The Kansas City Star published this account of the day’s breaking news story on Thursday afternoon:

All that remains between the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s new downtown arts campus and the state funding needed to build it is the signature of Gov. Eric Greitens.

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would authorize the state to borrow $48 million through a bond issue to help fund the arts campus, which would be adjacent to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

“The asset will truly add to the cultural and economic prosperity of the city and state,” said Sen. Jason Holsman, a Kansas City Democrat who has long championed the bill.

Half of the money for the Downtown arts campus already has been raised, primarily by private donors, including $20 million from Julia Irene Kauffman, but also $7 million from Kansas City government.

“The fact that Kansas City was able to come together as a community and raise $48 million tells you how important this is,” Holsman said on the floor.

He said he’d received no indication on whether the governor would sign the bill, and Greitens’ office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Still, leaders at UMKC, City Hall and throughout Downtown were jubilant.

UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, who has been promoting a downtown arts campus since soon after he became chancellor in 2008, commended the lawmakers who pushed the measure. But he also poured praise on the business and civic leaders who got behind the effort from the onset.

“I tell you, there’s a reason why I love Kansas City and it’s the people,” Morton said. “These folks when they put their minds to it can really make things happen.”

City Manager Troy Schulte called the project “a huge step forward for the university.”

“I think it’s a transformative project for downtown, and it’ll elevate UMKC nationally and internationally,” he said.


Schulte envisions the new conservatory as “the Juilliard of the West” because it will have a symbiotic relationship with the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts just as Juilliard has a close relationship with Lincoln Center in New York City.

City Councilwoman Jolie Justus, whose district includes Downtown, said the campus would bring a steady stream of college and graduate students to downtown, increasing the whole neighborhood’s vitality and vibrancy. She also has hopes the new conservatory can serve as a bridge to connect the Kauffman Center with the 18th &Vine Jazz District, with improvements all along 18th Street.

Warren Erdman, chief administration officer for Kansas City Southern, was among those who put special effort into getting Missouri lawmakers to support the project.

“This is one of the best shows of bipartisan leadership I’ve seen in a long time,” Erdman said. “Just an incredible show of bipartisanship. But it’s not possible without the support of the donors. If we don’t have that $48 million in our pocket, we don’t have a bill to bring forward.”

Sean O’Bryne, vice president of the Downtown Council and president of Block 4 Acquisitions, the group responsible for assembling the land where the downtown conservatory campus would be built, said the legislative action “shows that the state of Missouri is willing to invest even in tough times.”

The bill, which the House approved in March, cleared the Senate by a vote of 28-4. But vocal opponents criticized it for taking on more debt during a budget shortfall.

Sen. Bill Eigel, a Weldon Spring Republican, said funding the arts campus would plunge the state further into debt without providing substantive benefits beyond Kansas City.

And while proponents have argued that the arts campus would attract new talent and resources that would have positive statewide impact, Eigel didn’t buy it.

“Is there a great need for dancers in the state of Missouri?” Eigel asked on the floor.

He also expressed concerns that the project would raise tuition without adding to the university’s educational value.

“What I’ve come to realize is that the amount of money going into our higher education facilities is enormous,” Eigel said. “And what we’re finding is that a lot of those funds are being spent on buildings and styles of comfort versus improving the quality of education.”

But Holsman said the project is necessary to maintain the high-caliber reputation that the UMKC arts program enjoys. He said the current facilities have serious shortcomings that must be addressed to maintain talent.

For Sen. Mike Kehoe, who carried the bill on the Senate side, state support is a smart financial move.

Because the project would be state-owned but receive partial private funding, Kehoe said the project is a fiscally responsible move for the state.

“Whenever you can get an asset on a balance sheet for half the price that it will appear on the balance sheet,” Kehoe said, “I believe it’s a good time.”

Eigel challenged that.

“I understand that this is a state asset,” he said. “I’m not sure the founding fathers imagined government being the owners of large dance studios in spite of whatever benefit of fiscal incentive we think there is.”

Holsman emphasized the teamwork required to pass the legislation. He said partnerships with business leaders and among members of the Kansas City delegation helped move the bill over the finish line.

Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, was part of that partnership.

“I think it’s going to be a great addition to downtown,” Silvey said. “It’s going to create wonderful synergy between the performing arts and the education facilities that we already have.”

For Holsman and Silvey, the passing of the bill marks a major milestone.

“We are ecstatic that Kansas City has the opportunity to have a world-class facility as this to add to our continued momentum,” Holsman said. “This could end up being a signature piece of legislation for the session.”