News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services. Kansas City's Power & Light District has lured tenants but has produced lower-than-expected sales and property taxes.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The tab is mounting for this Midwestern city on a bet it made during the real-estate boom on an $850 million entertainment district meant to breathe new life into its struggling downtown. The tab is mounting for Kansas City, Mo., on a bet it made during the real-estate boom on an $850 million downtown entertainment district.
While the eight-block restaurant, nightclub and retail complex named the Power & Light District is mostly complete, traffic and sales are well below initial projections when construction started in 2006. Other cities, such as New York, subsidized transformative projects that are now fully or partially stalled, producing few taxes while not delivering what was envisioned. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate.
Such woes are common among real-estate developers who imagined values and rents in a fast-growing U.S. An entire city block with two levels of world-class restaurants, taverns and night spots, KC Live! Given the sluggish real-estate recovery, the city expects similar gaps to persist for years. The pain persists amid a slow recovery of property values and rents, a trend analysts expect to continue.


Kansas City's high debt was cited by Fitch Ratings in February when it warned of a potential downgrade. But the Power & Light District stands out because it was financed through a technique that seemed like it would pay for itself. Kansas City directed future sales and property taxes in the district to pay back the $295 million in bonds that the city issued for the project, which went toward infrastructure and to directly support the development. Ogden Armour, heir to the Armour Packing Company purchased the company in 1900 to power the Metropolitan Street Railway Company of Kansas City.Under Armour the company bought competitors and built a new power plant in 1903 and providing steam heat to downtown businesses.
Population shifts to the suburbs left the once-bustling downtown littered with parking lots and few restaurants or residents. Marquee events include Kansas City's Biggest Halloween and New Year's Eve Bashes, the Rock the Block Fashion Show and more. The grand vision was for an arena surrounded by stores, restaurants, apartment buildings and offices. KC Live is located directly across the street from the Sprint Center, on Grand Blvd between 13th & 14th Streets. In 1917 the company spun off the trolley business (which still controlled some power plants) and emerged from bankruptcy as Kansas City Light & Power Company. In 1917 the company began construction on the Northeast Power station,In 1919 the company reincorporated again, as Kansas City Power and Light Company. It hasn't attracted a professional sports team as planners had hoped, but city officials said it has regularly booked such events as the Big 12 Conference's men's basketball tournament.


After acquiring the Carroll County Electric Company in 1923, it became Kansas City Power & Light Company.Armour's interest was sold in 1923. Power & Light has gradually lured tenants since opening four years ago, and the commercial space is now 85% occupied, according to Cordish.
Continental Gas & Electric Corporation purchased the controlling interest in 1924 and was part of United Light and Power until United dissolved in 1950.The Hawthorn Station, situated on the Missouri River, was started in 1948, and the first of two units were completed in 1951. Occupied by a mix of local retailers like a family-owned grocery store as well as national chains like Chipotle, the mostly red brick low-rise district has a relatively lively bar and nightclub scene. On a recent warm weekday evening, the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant was lined with diners eating at tables open to the outside. But property-tax collections have been lower than expected, given lower rents and real estate values. The apartment buildings that also would have boosted traffic have stayed on the drawing board.
The city's new mayor, Sly James, said last week that while debt is a concern, he has embraced Power & Light for what it has done for the downtown.



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