The other day we highlighted a letter from a developer who claimed that his client, a hotel company, should receive higher-than-offered taxpayer subsidies because of a saturated hotel market. The hotel won’t make as much money, he argued, so the city should be more generous in its offering. That taxpayers should continue subsidizing hotels when there are already plenty seemed an odd position to take. But are there really too many hotels in downtown Kansas City?
Yes, according to the Hotel Muehlebach, a Kansas City landmark first opened in 1915. A developer is asking the City Council to execute “a Tax Contribution Agreement with Platform Ventures LLC for the purpose of incentivizing the redevelopment of the historic Hotel Muehlebach” (Ordinance No. 180842.)
The developers want tax money to help them redevelop the hotel into offices, residential apartments, and a 144-room hotel. This is a dramatic reduction from the Muehlebach’s current 420 hotel rooms. This is not the first time the Muehlebach has sought taxpayer subsidies. As we pointed out a few years ago in a post about Kansas City’s long history with hotel subsidies, a previous subsidy for the Muehlebach in 1992 was a disaster for taxpayers because there wasn’t enough demand for the hotel rooms to make the venture profitable.