OTHER OPINION: Apartments revive downtown Kanasas City

By Kansas City Star

The steady push to increase downtown Kansas City’s population received more encouraging news in recent days.
Clearly, some investors are bullish on the prospects, willing to create new housing in the urban core. And people still have good reasons to move into the area.
• The Missouri Board of Curators approved plans to seek development of a $30 million apartment complex to serve the nearly 3,000 University of Missouri-Kansas City health care students near Hospital Hill.
• A city panel endorsed property tax breaks for the reuse of buildings in the Crossroads Arts District. One would add seven units in the 1500 block of Walnut Street. The other would produce 14 apartments at 2100 Central St.
Downtown’s population has boomed from 6,300 residents in 2002 to 19,590 by 2012. Still, downtown’s promoters want to hit the 40,000 mark in another few decades, and it’s going to take a combination of public subsidies and private dollars to get the job done.
City officials need to control the tax incentives poured into apartment construction. With current occupancy close to 100 percent, and strong demand for more downtown living spaces, City Hall should not go overboard in handing out taxpayer giveaways to housing developers.
Instead, officials should demand strong private investment in return for access to limited taxpayer funds. The city must use the most cost-effective ways to grow downtown’s population.
Kansas City Star