Mayor Sly James announced today the development of a $300 million, 800-room convention headquarters hotel near the Kansas City Convention Center.
“Kansas City needs a major downtown convention hotel, and has for several years,” James said. “America has fallen in love with Kansas City and wants to have its conventions and large meetings here. The proposed agreement is the right development at the right location with the right hotel operator, and now is the right time to do it.”
The proposed hotel would be built on property at 16th and Wyandotte streets, directly across from the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom. Hyatt has been selected to be the hotel operator.
The project is a public-private partnership. The city investment of $35 million is fixed, does not originate from the General Fund and will be financed with revenues from existing Convention and Tourism taxes paid predominantly by out-of-town visitors. Taxpayers will not be responsible for any project cost overruns. The balance of the project cost is financed by the new city and county taxes generated by the new hotel’s operations, ballroom catering revenues plus private equity and debt.
The deliverable for the city’s investment – a $300 million convention headquarters hotel with 800 rooms – will generate additional economic activity and jobs for neighboring properties downtown and for the entire metro area, further enhancing return on the city’s investment.
Kansas City made a commitment a generation ago to be a premier meeting and convention destination. Yet, Kansas City’s national convention ranking has fallen since the 1970s as other cities have financed and developed attractive convention centers and supporting amenities.
While Kansas City has many assets to attract conventioneers, including a convenient midcontinent location, an established convention center with adjoining ballroom and meeting space and appealing, nearby dining, retail and entertainment options, meeting planners say lodging is inadequate for anything other than small-to medium-size meetings.
“This announcement is a game changer for the KC hospitality industry,” said Ronnie Burt, Visit KC president and CEO. “Over the last 10 years, Kansas City has lost out on hundreds of groups, representing millions of room nights and more than $3 billion in economic impact.”
Kansas City has explored ways to embrace its advantages as a convention city since the convention center’s Grand Ballroom opened in the mid-2000s. A city council committee vigorously explored the idea of a convention center hotel in 2009-2011, but no project resulted.
To complement the city’s current investment in its convention industry, a local team of professionals with real estate development experience and convention industry expertise has come together to develop a convention headquarters hotel for the city. The headquarters hotel will be integral to the city’s convention center operation in order to bring job-creating, economy-boosting meetings and national events to Kansas City.
Burke Swerdling & Associates, led by Kansas City civic leader Mike Burke and Bob Swerdling, a national hotel finance professional, assessed the market and determined that a combination of factors made the time right to propose a convention headquarters hotel in Kansas City. The team also includes KC Hospitality Investors LLC, JE Dunn Construction and HNTB Architecture.
“Our development group has put forth a proposal that brings Kansas City a convention headquarters hotel that is the final piece of the revitalization of our new downtown,” Burke said. “The mayor was firm in his commitment to only support a plan heavy on private investment with minimal public risk, and this proposal delivers on both points.”
David J. Tarr, senior vice president, real estate and development for Hyatt, said the company is pleased to have been selected as the hotel operator for the new Kansas City Convention Center Hotel.
“Hyatt has a long-standing relationship with Kansas City,” Tarr said. “The growth in downtown development has primed the city to regain convention and visitor business, and Hyatt is excited by the opportunity to participate in the continuing expansion.”
The convention headquarters hotel will feature approximately 75,000 square feet of meeting, banquet and pre-convene space, 9,000 square feet of garden/terrace space, 15,450 square feet of other retail, restaurant, bar and lounge space, a 9,913-square-foot recreational facility and a parking facility with 450-500 spaces.
The site maximizes and centralizes convention hotel meeting space in close proximity to the Grand Ballroom and related meeting space of the Kansas City Convention Center/Bartle Hall. It centralizes ballroom and meeting space to the east of the Convention Center, closer to many downtown amenities. The site is a short walk from the Power & Light District, Sprint Center and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
“This convention center hotel plan fills a need for the city and has significant opportunity to move Kansas City forward,” said Julia Irene Kauffman, chairman and chief executive officer of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. “Much thought and attention to detail has gone into the plan. The hotel will be a great complement not only to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, but to other downtown attractions, such as the Convention Center, Sprint Center and Power & Light District.”
It is expected that the project will require 1,500 construction workers during the course of construction. The 800-room convention headquarters hotel will provide an estimated 350 full-time-equivalent jobs plus additional employment in other Kansas City-area businesses serving the convention.
Construction is slated to begin in early 2016 and be completed in 2018.
For more information about Kansas City’s proposed convention center hotel or to see renderings of the project, visit www.HereToStayKC.com.
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