Shawnee council approves $19.5 million in TIF incentives for Bellmont Promenade

Bellmont Promenade
Shawnee resident Kris Durbin told the councilmembers to vote based on their confidence that the developers can complete the Bellmont Promenade project.

Despite concerns that some components of the project lack a completion guarantee, the Shawnee council voted 7-1 to approve the redevelopment proposal and a revised tax increment financing (TIF) plan for Bellmont Promenade.

The plan would provide the developers, Legacy Development and Bach Homes, $19.5 million in TIF funds over a period of 20 years for developing the $99 million project at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road.

One of Legacy Development’s early renderings of the proposed Bellmont Promenade center.

The council last night approved the TIF funding structure, which would capture 90 percent of incremental property taxes as well as 100 percent of the city’s 1 percent general sales tax on retail purchased at Bellmont Promenade. The public incentives will be financed through the issuance of special obligation pre-construction bonds.

Councilmember Mike Kemmling cast the dissenting vote on the TIF plan.

The developers have assured completion and opening of about 110,000 square feet of retail, which is projected to produce about 40 percent of the anticipated TIF and community improvement district (CID) revenue from the project.

However, councilmembers voiced hesitation that the project currently lacked a completion guarantee on components of the project, especially regarding the multi-family housing and restaurants. The developers said they plan to sell restaurant spaces and lock down contracts with retail tenants over the next year or two.

Councilmembers also said they didn’t want to be financially on the hook if the developers fail to complete the project or fill it with business tenants.

Greg Musil, the developers’ legal counsel, said it’s easy to focus on the negatives or what-ifs. He told the council it still has the chance to back away from the project when it comes time to issue bonds next month.

Bellmont Promenade
Greg Musil, legal counsel for Bellmont Promenade developers

“The projects around (here) — whether it’s in Johnson County or Wyandotte County or Kansas City, Missouri — when they work right, you never hear about it,” Musil told the council. “When they don’t work, you hear about it.”

The council also voted 6-2 to modify the community improvement district (CID) sales tax rate from 1.3 to 1.6 percent for a period of 22 years. Councilmembers Kemmling and Eric Jenkins cast the dissenting votes.

The council also approved levying special assessments as well as $95 million in private activity revenue bonds to help cover project construction costs. Kemmling voted in dissent on levying the special assessments.

The council also unanimously approved the project’s revised preliminary development plan and rezoning from commercial highway to planned mixed use. The developers had revised a portion of the project to appease neighbors who had submitted a protest petition against the project because of its close proximity of the development to their homes.

Shawnee city leaders will convene March 25 to discuss issuance of bonds for the project. The developers will have until then to solidify details and make completion guarantees on other components of the project.