South KC Perspectives

Growth Incentives Around Cerner Campus

By John Sharp

SharpJohnA general development plan for much of the area near the new Cerner Innovations Campus at the site of the former Bannister Mall that would allow developers to apply for tax incentives was approved without dissent July 20 by the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (PIEA).

The plan for the East Bannister PIEA Planning Area actually covers four areas:  the area between 93rd St. on the north and Bannister Rd. on the south from Hillcrest Rd. on the west to the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks on the east; the area between the Hickman Mills Freshman Center campus on the north and Bannister Rd. on the south from the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks on the west to Old Santa Fe Rd. and Blue Ridge Blvd. on the east; the Loma Vista shopping center at the southwest quadrant of 87th St. and Blue Ridge Blvd.; and the Robandee shopping center at the northeast corner of Bannister Rd. and James A. Reed Rd.

A blight study conducted for the PIEA found unsanitary and unsafe conditions and deterioration of site improvements such as violations of city property maintenance and nuisance codes, numerous instances of illegally dumped trash and debris, and the presence of a large number of vacant and/or boarded up buildings which supported a finding that the areas as a whole are blighted even though all individual parcels are not.

Under the development plan, developers can apply for up to 100 percent abatement of any increase in real property taxes caused by their developments for up to 10 years and for up to 50 percent abatement of any such increases for up to 15 additional years.

I had hoped no economic development incentives would be necessary to spur redevelopment around the new Cerner campus.  However, boarded up commercial buildings on the east side of Hillcrest south of 93rd, the long vacant Gordmans store at Loma Vista, the vacant former grocery store and other vacancies at Robandee, and the string of vacant storefronts just north of the Walgreens store on Blue Ridge convinced me to testify before the PIEA in favor of adopting the development plan making these areas eligible for incentives.

The plan must be approved by the City Plan Commission and the City Council before going into effect.  It is expected to be heard by the Plan Commission on Tuesday, September 5.


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