A company called Trails Properties II — established by Cerner Corp. executives Neal Patterson and Cliff Illig — is spearheading an effort to turn defunct Kansas City shopping center Bannister Mall into a high-tech, business-luring office park. But that plan hinges on tax breaks from the state, and those tax breaks are under scrutiny from state legislators.
The developers want lawmakers to allow them to qualify for the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage tax credit, an incentive program that offsets some costs of buying and maintaining land for large-scale projects in impoverished urban areas. The legislation would allow the Bannister Mall project to qualify for up to about $47 million in credits.
But the tax breaks are under scrutiny, centered around the only man to ever use the land assemblage tax credit, St. Louis-area developer Paul McKee. Lawmakers created the tax credit in 2007 to help McKee redevelop a 1,500-acre swath of land north of downtown St. Louis.
The House has approved extending the land assemblage tax credit — which is scheduled to expire in August — in the past, but the Senate has consistently balked. Gov. Jay Nixon refused to include the tax credit on the agenda of a special legislative session in 2011. A commission appointed by the governor has recommended abolishing it.