KC Council skeptics say hearing offers sufficient answers on hotel project finances

The last-minute turbulence that threatened to upend the start of construction on a new 800-room convention hotel in downtown Kansas City calmed on Wednesday, as developers and city officials responded to questions from three Kansas City Council members seeking more details about the deal.

More than new data, members of the council wanted the essentials of the $322 million venture brought into clearer focus: the sources of the money, the city’s risk as an investor, and how taxpayers were protected if the deal went bad.

At the end of the three-hour hearing before the council’s government and finance committee, they said the picture was, if not completely transparent, then clear enough.

After what she thought was a less than complete briefing on the deal last week, she joined Hall and Loar in sponsoring an ordinance to freeze the city’s $35 million cash contribution to venture, led by Loews Hotels and two equity partners, until the transparency improved.

While the measure had no real prospect of passing the full council, its mere existence threw a scare into the development team, which is pressing to close the transaction before possible changes in the financial markets unravel the plan. Any sign of the reluctance on the city’s part could have threaten the closing, they said.

Read more: Kansas City Star, Kansas City Business Journal

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