|By Kevin Collison, The Kansas City Star,
Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 30, 2010 --Developer Ron Jury has strengthened his bid to build a proposed downtown convention hotel. He's arranged $51.7 million in historic tax credits and added another local partner to his team.
Although the city is not expected to make a decision on a 1,000-room convention hotel project until at least May, Jury is continuing to push a plan that calls for renovating the historic Power & Light Building at 14th and Baltimore and building a companion tower to the west.
Jury said Monday he's lined up $27.5 million in state historic tax credits, and $24.2 million in federal historic credits to help renovate the Power & Light Building, an 80-year-old art deco landmark.
Also, Copaken White & Blitt has agreed to assist with the 40,000 square-feet of retail envisioned in the proposal.
The city steering committee charged with making a recommendation recently hired Piper Jaffray & Co. to conduct a financial analysis for the hotel plan and recommend a funding approach.
A site selection subcommittee expects to recommend a location April 21 to be considered by the full committee April 26.
While there are four sites listed as finalists, only two are receiving serious attention: Jury's Power & Light proposal and the so-called Hereford site on the south side of Interstate 670 at 16th and Wyandotte streets near the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
The city is insisting it control the site. About two-thirds of the Hereford site already is owned by the city, and Jury said he's willing assign his property option to the city.
That would mean Jury would have to compete with others for the development rights for the hotel project.
"I'd bid to be the developer, but I believe we have the perfect site and team," he said.
In addition to Copaken White & Blitt, Jury has lined up J.E. Dunn Construction Co. as a potential contractor, and a design team comprising local architectural firms BNIM and Pendulum Studio, and HKS of Dallas.
Jury also has revised his cost estimate for the Power & Light proposal, which besides the companion tower would include a three-level building stretching along Baltimore to 13th Street that would accommodate ballrooms and a motor court. A five-level underground garage also is planned.
The revised total is $280 million, down from the original estimate last summer of $350 million.
"The cost of construction now is 30 percent cheaper than 1 1/2 years ago and there's an opportunity for savings if the city can lock in the process this year," Jury said.
Real estate expert Whitney Kerr Sr. is the proponent of Hereford site, but has not identified any development team for his plan. Kerr could not be reached for comment. PGAV Architects of Westwood has prepared some conceptual drawings showing how a hotel project could be built at the site.
Kansas City Councilman Ed Ford, the leader of the site selection subcommittee, said both the Jury plan and the Hereford site "could work beautifully."
He did say there are concerns a high-rise hotel on the Hereford site could block views of the new performing arts center from the central business district.
"On the other hand, the Power & Light site is closer to the entertainment district and would preserve a historic structure," Ford said.
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