Hearne: Star Fiddles with ‘Hipster’ Best Of While Wall Street Journal Burns P&L

Think of it as a black eye for KC and another nail in former mayor Kay Barnes’ coffin…

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal drilled Kansas City’s Power & Light District and Cordish for the bad bet Barnes made in 2005 that the taxes generated by the $850 million entertainment district would pay for itself or the city would pick up the tab.

We all know what happened next.

"Today, the project, which sits near the onetime headquarters of Kansas City Power & Light Co., generates less than one-third of what is needed to cover the debt service on the bonds," the Journal says. "The city is setting aside $12.8 million in its budget for the fiscal year that starts next month to cover the gap, a notable hole in a $1.3 billion budget that calls for $7.6 million in cuts to the fire department."

Worse yet, "Given the sluggish real-estate recovery, the city expects similar gaps to persist for years." the Journal adds.

The Journal points to cities with similar woes, but while today’s Star pants about yet another bogus "best of" by Travel & Leisure magazine for KC’s being a "hipster" magnet (like Travel & Leisure would know), there’s zero coverage on the dinging by the Journal.

A dinging with teeth, as opposed to the hollow best of blowjob.

"These dashed hopes are contributing to broader fiscal problems. Kansas City’s high debt was cited by Fitch Ratings in February when it warned of a potential downgrade," the story continues. "’The city’s debt load has increased substantially over the past decade resulting from an aggressive infrastructure and economic development expansion plan,’ the ratings firm said.The redevelopment efforts came after decades of decline in Kansas City. Population shifts to the suburbs left the once-bustling downtown littered with parking lots and few restaurants or residents. The grand vision was for an arena surrounded by stores, restaurants, apartment buildings and offices."

That the P&L is at 85 percent occupancy isn’t exactly a good sign either.

If we can’t make it at 85 percent, how much upside is there?

"The Power & Light District’s never going to make money, we gave too much away," says Westport businessman Bill Nigro. ‘Their sales would have to triple or quadruple to break even and we just don’t have the population base."

Unfortunately, "Sales-tax revenue is also off," the Journal says. "Cordish has blamed this partly on the lack of a professional sports team at the arena. The apartment buildings that also would have boosted traffic have stayed on the drawing board."

The P&L has hit KC in the pocketbook in less obvious but significant other ways, Nigro notes.

"Kansas City used to get (more) sales tax money from all the entertainment districts and the city got to keep that money," Nigro says. "That includes Westport, the City Market, Martini Corner and the Plaza. But now, not only does the city not get to keep the sales tax money from Cordish because it goes to pay off the bonds, they’re getting less sales tax money from the other entertainment districts whose business went down because of competition from the Power & Light. So it’s a double whammy."

Barnes is also credited with spearheading the Sprint Center on the premise of luring a pro hockey or basketball team. Yet while Sprint seems to have worked out well for concert promoters, that’s not the case with the P&L, Kemper Arena and the American Royal.

In fact, here’s how Barnes’ Wikipedia page characterizes her legacy downtown:

"Barnes was a principal architect of Kansas City’s deal with private investors to develop the downtown Power and Light District. The terms of the deal essentially require the City to pay for shortfalls in revenue on the servicing of the bonds issued to develop the district. P&L has been a fiscal disaster for Kansas City with taxpayers perennially paying millions of dollars on the bond obligations out of the general budget, and forcing the city to offset the debt by cutting into essential services, such as street maintenance and fire protection. Some have suggested an investigation into Barnes’ direct and indirect relationships with developer Cordish Co. and the financing banks should take place."

Nuff said?

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11 Responses to Hearne: Star Fiddles with ‘Hipster’ Best Of While Wall Street Journal Burns P&L

  1. the dude says:

    White Power District
    thanks the silly bureaucrats and taxpayers that will continue to pay for this boondoggle for years to come.
    This is another St. Louis Center just waiting to happen. I hope somone got rich off this deal dowtown, or at least got a summer home or a golf trip out of it because the taxpayers got screwed.

  2. Weasel Words Watch says:

    Careful with the Wikipedia entry. It sounds like Tony Botello wrote it, because it’s full of Weasel Words.

    “essentially require…” – so there is an untold truth here
    “P&L has been a fiscal disaster…” – without backing that up with any figures, or data.
    “some have suggested…” Who? Any names?

    Weasel words sound good, and sound authoritative, but they are hollow – they imply significance where there is none. Tony uses weasel words like a dog uses grass: he’s constantly pissing and shitting them to further his aims, whatever the hell they are. Don’t fall into the same trap.

  3. Hearne says:

    The numbers don’t lie…
    The Wikipedia assertions line up pretty well with the $12 million shortfall the city’s is gonna have to make up and the projections of those shortfalls continuing well into the future.

  4. rkcal says:

    Hip hip hooray
    So eating barbecue and drinking beer while sitting on our ass enjoying all this good wireless coverage scores us the hipster list? Might explain why we’re always on the fattest cities list as well.

  5. Super Dave says:

    Pop And the weasel is out
    Weasel Words Watch gee what an asinine choice of words to make a point about what everybody knows. 12.8 million dollars of taxpayers money is not something to laugh about. You are probably one of those fools who thinks the toy train is going to save it all. Wake up and smell the stink of the whole deal. Power and Light Dist is pure proof of one time where the build it and they will come has been an epic fail.

  6. Super Dave says:

    Mr Nigro
    Slick Bill has no room to bash another area of lack of paying the bill when he hasn’t bothered to pay his Folley Trolley bill either.

  7. chuck says:

    I see everyone is working and playing well with others.

    I am terrible with money and have no business commenting on this disaster.

    What is a “Weasel Word”?

    “They imply significance when there is none?”

    Are ya pissed off at adjectives?

    I am kind of annoyed with Pre Op Transexuals bitching about bad pronoun references.


    He/She pisses them off too.

  8. paulwilsonkc says:

    I’d vote for an investigation…..
    …. as my bet is she didnt have the horse power to pull this off of her own volition…. I’d bet you if you follow the money there might be something ever more interesting than Plaza parking…..

    Nice observation, Chuck…. whats changed to make that happen??? Hmmmmmmmm?

  9. Smartman says:

    Triumvirate of LIARS
    Kay ” The Sex Therapist” Barnes, Tim “Hillbilly Teeth” Leiweke and Art “Slobodan Milosevic” Brisbane, knowingly and willingly lied and intentionally deceived the public, all the while KNOWING the taxpayers would wind up with a Louisville Slugger up the poop-chute.

    Whether or not their actions were, or are, criminal is up for debate but certainly their intent was both criminal and self serving. Kay gets her legacy in Kay’s Barn. Timmy and his jowls fulfill a lifelong fantasy to be Chris Fritz, but with a much smaller penis and Art gets to be the architect of the largest metropolitan failed social engineering experiment since Slobodan went into the ethnic cleansing business or Bob Bernstein became a “developer”.

    These pseudo intellectual white trash grifters make the Funk, Squid and Joe Miller look like the MOD SQUAD.

    Their collective, collaborative and conjoined assertions about the potential of the entire project extended far beyond the notion of failed “campaign promises” into the realm of securities fraud. Kinda like William “Boots” Del Baggio……….Remember him? The AEG offering as some sort of substantive first down play on BIG MONEY PEOPLE they knew who would bankroll our shoe-in NHL or NBA relo or expansion franchise. Boots can now be regularly seen on CNBC’s American Greed in re-runs.

  10. the dude says:

    So after all this poo poo news about
    white power district, does this mean I will not be getting my taxpayer financed 1000 room hotel?

  11. RickM says:

    Where’s the link?
    I appreciate all of the – quite promiscuous – quoting of the WSJ piece, but even if it’s behind a paywall, what’s wrong with posting a link to the entire article to give us more perspective?

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