Kansas City Closes in on Convention Center Hotel

Courtesy of JWallace. Artist rendering of the proposed Kansas City Convention Center Hotel.

Kansas City, which has been losing business as a key convention destination because it currently lacks a large convention center hotel near the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall, is moving closer to sealing a deal that will change that.

The Kansas City Business Journal reports that Kansas City Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee voted May 20 to advance an ordinance authorizing City Manager Troy Schulte to execute a memorandum of understanding between the city and hotel developer, Burke Swerdling & Associates LLC. For three years the developer has been working with the city on a proposal calling for an 800-room, 30-story Hyatt with 75,000 sq. ft. of meeting space to be located on 16th Street, between Baltimore Avenue and Wyandotte Street, south of the downtown freeway loop.

The convention headquarters hotel is projected to cost $302.5 million. The memorandum of understanding authorizes spending $35 million in city money on the project. A catering agreement worth an additional $62.4 million over 15 years would give the owner exclusive catering rights in the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom.

Kansas City leaders point out that they cannot attract big conventions due to the lack of hotel space near the convention center. Supporters like Ronnie Burt, CEO of Visit KC, say this new hotel project will reverse that.

Burt believes the hotel would be a “game changer” for Kansas City. The CVB reports that from 2005 to 2014, Kansas City lost 665 groups, representing 5.5 million room nights and $3.9 billion in economic impact, because of an inadequate number of hotel rooms near the convention center. Although Visit KC was successful in attracting smaller conventions, Burt says the proposed hotel would allow it to target convention groups requiring 3,000 or more hotel rooms.

“It…opens us up to a whole other universe,” he said.

If the deal can be sealed, it is expected that the hotel could be completed by 2018.

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