Fall 2022 Report
To inform members and interested stakeholders about progress on the implementation of the Imagine Downtown KC Strategic Plan, the Downtown Council of Kansas City will share updates from the quarterly Implementation Committee meetings, including this report from the Sept. 29 meeting.
Imagine Downtown KC – Implementation Committee
Members of the Imagine Downtown KC Implementation team met on Sept. 29, 2022 for the fall quarterly meeting at the Park University Downtown Campus.
The session began with a welcome to two members of the City Council, Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, 3rd District, and Councilman Eric Bunch, 4th District. Another 26 committee and DTC staff members attended the fall meeting in person.
Implementation chair Jason Parson reminded committee members of the significance of the six Transformative Strategies presented in the Imagine strategic plan:
- Mosaic of Neighborhoods
- Housing for All
- 21st Century Jobs, Economic & Recovery
- Smart & Healthy Infrastructure
- Seamless Mobility
- A Green, Beautiful, & Vibrant City Center.
These overarching strategies are intended to shape decision-making, prioritization, and investment, as well as guide the work of the Downtown Council, City of Kansas City, Missouri, and their many partners and collaborators.
Housing for All
The September meeting began focused on Housing for All. Parson reminded committee members how the Imagine plan spells out the opportunity of Housing for All in greater Downtown KC:
“Downtown KC has a wide range of housing options for all incomes, and many neighborhoods retain older affordable single-family homes and apartment buildings. To keep Downtown healthy and diverse, the Downtown Council, the City, and partner organizations need to provide leadership to continue to preserve existing affordable housing and create additional rental and owner-occupied affordable housing.”
Parson then introduced speakers covering five, housing-oriented programs already underway in Downtown:
#1. CITY-WIDE BOND ISSUES:
Melissa Patterson Hazley was the campaign manager for Questions #1 and #2 in the Nov. 8 general election vote. (Both bond issues were subsequently approved by the voters.)
Hazley spoke to the committee about the merits of the city-wide bond issues with an emphasis on Question #2 regarding a $50M investment for affordable housing. Since her presentation came before the election, the following report from KCUR-FM 89.3 captures the outcome of the Nov. 8 vote:
Voters approve $175M in bonds for affordable housing, convention center
Courtesy, KCUR, Nov. 8, 2022. Click here for the complete story. See below for an edited version:
Kansas City will invest general obligation bond funds over the next five years to upgrade parks and recreation centers and convention facilities and to create more affordable housing units.
Voters resoundingly supported Kansas City’s proposal to spend $175 million in general obligation bond funds over the next five years for major upgrades to park and convention center facilities and for affordable housing, according to unofficial election results Tuesday night.
The vote was 71% to 29% for Question 1, pertaining to the parks and convention center facilities.
Voters also supported Question 2, relating to affordable housing, by 71% to 29% margin. This also required 57 percent voter approval. The measure allows Kansas City to spend $50 million over the next five years for affordable housing for low-income residents. According to Mayor Quinton Lucas, this would be the largest investment Kansas City has ever made for affordable housing.
Kansas City urgently needs more affordable housing stock, as monthly rents and the cost of home-ownership have skyrocketed. Civic leaders and the KC Tenants Power political group endorsed the proposal, which is intended to help create about 2,000 affordable housing units.
“At KC Tenants Power, we support the development of truly affordable housing. We know we can have a city that is diverse, prosperous, beautiful … without putting profits before our lives. That’s why we supported, fought for, and won this $50 million bond for housing Kansas City really needs, and that we can truly afford,” Gabe Coppage, a leader with KC Tenants Power and Midtown Tenant Union, said in a statement.
An ordinance passed by the city council in October mandates that the money generated from the bond will prioritize “deeply affordable” housing — between about $550 and $750 per month — making it a realistic option for tenants whose household income is 30% of the Kansas City area median income (AMI).
In addition to the bond elections, Hazley discussed an uptick in homelessness across the city. During the discussion, Bill Dietrich suggested outreach to private funders for assistance with affordable housing solutions.
Hazley invited committee members to contact her with questions. Please forward your questions to Ann Holliday or Bill Dietrich.
#2: DWELLING UNITS (ADUs):
Jared Campbell, Downtown Council, began his presentation by describing ADUs as “another tool to add more affordable housing units” in Kansas City. ADUs hold the potential for creating additional income for the homeowner, stabilizing neighborhoods, while adding more housing stock to the city
Historically known as carriage houses, granny flats, finished basements, or converted garages, ADUs typically are attached to an existing home or structure. Hundreds of ADUs were built before WWII, but City building codes in the 1950s ultimately made them illegal to build or rent out.
For over the last year, the Downtown Council, as a member of the Livable KC Coalition (along with AARP-MO, Midtown KC Now, and the KC Regional Housing Alliance) is worked with the City and other partners to bring ADUs to the forefront of Kansas City’s housing solutions
Mayor Lucas introduced Ordinance #220698 (which passed on Sept. 15) that sets standards including: ADUs may be attached or detached; owners must reside in one of the two units; additional parking is not required, and the rental unit must be smaller than the original unit, either a maximum of 800 square feet (sf) or 90% of the floor area of the principal unit, whichever is smaller; and current setback and historic building codes apply.
Plans are to continue community engagement and study other cities to see how to make it easy for citizens to obtain building permits, etc. One lesson has come from Seattle, where the city has established five pre-approved floor plans to expedite ADU growth.
Jeff Williams, the City’s director of planning, told the committee he has been working on Chapter 88, Kansas City Code of Ordinances which regulates land use and development across the City. He is engaged with infill development of existing lots not conforming with existing zoning. The aim is to boost density on lots. The code is expected to be adopted before year-end.
#3: 18th & VINE:
Kelvin Simmons, Nexus Group Government Affairs, presented an overview of One Nine Vine, considered a game-changer in terms of mixed-income housing, parking, retail, and restaurants for the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.
This modern, urban living center represents the largest private investment ($150M thus far) in the area’s history.
Phase I of the mixed use development will provide:
- Restaurants and retail space on the ground level
- Urban improvement including new lighting, landscape, hardscape, and “a new vibe to Vine Street”
- 5 stories of residential living with 30 one-bedroom (675 sf) and 50 two-bedroom (875 sf) living spaces
- Parking: 55 surface and 30 garage spaces, as well as 19th & Vine street parking stalls.
- Spaces for local artists to showcase their work on the building facade
Phase II will build on the qualities introduced in Phase I, including:
- 150 new parking spaces with an art-wrapped garage
- 200 middle-income rental units
- 30,000 sf supermarket
- 7,000 sf ground-level retail space.
Phase III site plan has already been approved by the City Council:
- A 35,000 sf restaurant and retail space, 33,000 st office space, 60 market-rate rental units, 65+ more parking spaces, and historic building preservations will be included. The Vine Street phase will include the maintenance of buildings and reconstruction.
The ambitious One Nine Vine development is off and running with $150M in new investment. Phase I plans for 175K sf of retail; 80 mixed income residential units; 85 parking spaces; and there is growing interest in creating seamless East-West transit connections to improve access to and from the historic jazz district.
Simmons believes mixed-income housing is the most effective and successful strategy for growing the number of low income or affordable housing offerings at 18th & Vine, or any neighborhood.
“For a neighborhood to thrive, you need more than low income housing,” he said.
#4: WESTSIDE CH. 353 AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLAN:
Christopher Frantze, Stinson LLP, shared a national precedent-setting strategy to protect the historic Westside neighborhood from gentrification. The Westside strategy was sparked by real estate tax bills that shot up 128% from 2019 to 2020, compared to the Jackson County average of 19%.
Frantze reviewed the pro bono strategy just hours before the Stinson team presented it to the City Council on Sept. 29.
The following summary is the Stinson LLP report that followed the Council’s 10-2 vote to approve Ordinance 220806, thus authorizing the Westside Owner-Occupant Residential Property Chapter 353 Development Plan:
A team of Stinson LLP attorneys led by Partner Chris Frantze has secured a precedent-setting tax abatement plan on behalf of residents in Kansas City’s historic Westside neighborhood.
In a Kansas City, Missouri City Council meeting held September 29, 2022, council members voted 10-2 to approve Ordinance 220806, thus authorizing the Westside Owner-Occupant Residential Property Chapter 353 Development Plan.
With approval of the plan, the Westside neighborhood has been declared a blighted area, thus providing an opportunity to not only freeze Westside neighborhood residents’ property taxes that have increased in recent years, but reduce them and bring the property tax amount in line with the average paid across Jackson County, Mo. To mitigate gentrification efforts, the plan and tax abatement benefits accrue only to existing Westside residents.
“This plan is a first-of-its-kind use of an economic development tool to protect low- and moderate-income homeowners from the effects of gentrification,” Frantze said. “The recent property tax increases caused by rising property values in the Westside neighborhood threatened to displace the longtime residents, and we’re thrilled that the City Council recognized this imminent harm and acted to prevent it.”
For residents of the Westside neighborhood, this plan enables them to remain in the homes they were born and raised in and where they have raised their families.
“The passage of the Westside 353 Property Tax Relief measure was the single most important and impactful thing to happen to the Westside in 30 years,” said current Westside resident, former CEO of the Kansas City Neighborhood Alliance and the national nonprofit Homeownership Preservation Foundation Colleen Hernandez. “Our efforts would not have prevailed without the talent, vigilance, and strategic focus of our pro bono team, Chris and Dave Frantze.”
Click here to read more of the Stinson report.
#5. WESTSIDE TAX ABATEMENT PROPOSAL:
Pedro Zamora, Hispanic Economic Development Corporation and long-time resident of the Westside neighborhood, is leading efforts to analyze and synthesize conditions in the Westside, as well as proposing planning scenarios for 2030.
Ensuring increased economic investment for all is the goal, he said. Three planning scenarios for 2030 were created to support public discussion for the creation of a neighborhood plan that targets the area’s long-term residents.
Zamora outlined five goals for the Westside’s plans:
- Identify existing neighborhood conditions
- Analyze current urban conditions and their effects on the neighborhood
- Pursue and include feedback from professionals and the public
- Select a few of the most salient challenges the neighborhood faces, perform precedent analysis, and draw lessons learned
- Create three planning scenarios for 2030 to support public discussion for a neighborhood plan
One goal is to stabilize the neighborhood for the long term. Zamora said most people are not equipped for aging in place.
Imagine Downtown KC – tracking progress
Bill Dietrich reminded committee members of the Catalytic Project Tracking Report, a working document designed to break down each project and track progress by cost estimate, status (from concept to completion), staff/committee leadership, timeline, and next steps.
A series of brief reports covered recent progress on five fronts:
- Columbus Park: The neighborhood is tracking potential development on many parcels.
- South Loop Link: Announcement of a new management partnership with the Downtown Council, Port KC and the City of Kansas City; $26M earmark in the Federal budget thanks to the leadership of Sen. Roy Blunt; federal grant application for $60M is in process; Loews Kansas City Hotel, JE Dunn Construction and others have made financial commitments to fundraising efforts. Contact Ann Holliday, email@example.com for more information.
- Greenline KC: The team is waiting to hear about a CMAQ grant through MARC. They are also working with property owners along the southern route to develop letters of intent. The team will continue to work on fundraising for design and engineering in 2023. Community engagement continues. Contact Jared Campbell, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Health Sciences District: A Community Improvement District for Hospital Hill has been approved.
- East-West Connections: The evaluation process continues for determining routes for a multi-modal plan reaching from the KU Medical Center to the Truman Sports Complex. Implementation committee members are invited to attend upcoming KC Streetcar/Ride KC and Bi-State Sustainability Corridor public meetings found at https://ridekc.org/planning/eastwesttransit. Tom Gerend asked people to participate in online streetcar public media to provide feedback for defining streetcar concepts.
Imagine Downtown KC – General Updates
Neighborhood involvement: The Implementation Committee welcomes more representatives from Downtown adjacent neighborhoods. For more information, see Ann Holliday at email@example.com.
Next quarterly meeting: The next meeting of the Imagine Downtown KC 2030 Implementation Committee is set for Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m., location to be determined. For more information, contact Ann Holliday at firstname.lastname@example.org.