Vote No on Subsidies for Luxury

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As a community-based organization, the Coalition for Kansas City Economic Development Reform has a committed interest in where and how economic revitalization happens in our city.

We insist that

  • Economic development projects be planned by a process that is transparent, particularly when it comes to negotiations done by the City Manager.
  • Tax incentives be applied as intended, so that low-income communities – particularly communities of color - receive the benefits of these incentives and are not further segregated.
  • Economic development incentives are carried out in collaboration with our schools, libraries and mental health service providers, rather than diverting their resources without their consent.

We have many concerns regarding the Three Light project(s)…

Weak rationale for tax abatement. In December of 2016, SB Friedman did a preliminary financial review of the project and concluded that, “the requested PIEA assistance does not appear to be needed in order to achieve market-level rates of return.” The Developer then adjusted the numbers, in ways that are inconsistent with market realities, in order that the rationale squeak by. The project scored only one point above “low impact” on the city’s own lenient scoring status.

Conditions have changed since 2004. The city’s finances, the increased gap between rich and poor, and the continued neglect of the East side are important facts that belie the necessity of another major taxpayer subsidy for luxury housing inside the downtown loop.

Tax abatement has saturated the luxury market. An independent analysis stated that competition from other buildings from the same developer was part of the basis for their request. The response to this condition should not be further tax abatement but instead is a strong indicator that market forces should now be allowed to operate.

Economic development incentives should be targeted toward areas of need. Our city cannot continue to cater to the rich. Building luxury apartments and hotels downtown must be balanced with providing jobs and affordable housing in all areas of our city – particularly those areas in greatest need. Our citizens deserve no less.

Economic development should not be a zero-sum game. Diversion and abatement of revenue from public services schools, public libraries, mental health services in our community colleges is not sustainable. The Three Light project represents an affront to the taxpayers of Kansas City who support and have voted for these public services.


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