Convention hotel wins key approvals; groundbreaking set

After seven years of discussion and planning, construction of a 24-story, 800-room Downtown convention hotel is expected to begin Jan. 2 following approvals of key documents Wednesday, according to today’s

A thick stack of financing and property transfer documents necessary for the $322.7 million Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel project was approved unanimously by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) after three hours of deliberations.

“In my 20 years on the board, this is easily the most complicated project we’ve ever embraced,” said LCRA Chairman Steve Hamilton.

The new Loews will be the first major hotel built in Downtown Kansas City since the Vista International, now the Marriott opened in 1985, and is expected by Loews officials to make the city far more competitive in the convention market. It’s expected to be completed in March 2020.

Alexander Tisch, executive vice president of the New York-based Loews, said the project should allow Kansas City to compete for up to 200 more events than it could previously by offering the critical mass of downtown hotel rooms needed for major conventions.

“You have a vibrant downtown and first class convention center,” Tisch told the LCRA board, “but you need a four-star hotel to attract more convention business.”

The addition of the new hotel should allow Kansas City to compete with other convention destinations such as Indianapolis, Nashville and Austin, backers said. Its first major event already is scheduled for July 2020 when the Shriners International convention is expected to draw 20,000 participants.

The project also is expected to create 400 permanent jobs and another 1,500 construction jobs. Locally-based J.E. Dunn Construction is the contractor and Atlanta-based Cooper Carry is the architect.

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