Back taxes on Merriam Kmart property were not paid by June 1 deadline required for TIF incentive

Merriam Kmart sign

Developers failed to pay delinquent taxes on the long-vacant Kmart site in Merriam by the city-imposed June 1 deadline. File photo.

This story has been updated to clarify the ownership structure of the properties involved. Block & Company does not directly own the Kmart or Taco Bell properties.

Delinquent taxes on the the long-vacant Kmart site remained unpaid on the June 1 deadline Merriam officials had set for developers to get a tax incentive for the revitalization of the Taco Bell property across the street.

County records show taxes stopped being paid on the property in 2019 and that the total amount currently due is more than $150,000. Not only is the sale of the Kmart property — and its subsequent redevelopment — contingent on the property being current on taxes, so is the Taco Bell redevelopment across the street at 8800 Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Why now? Block & Company, which is involved in plans for the redevelopment of both properties, emailed the city and requested an extension that would generally mirror the timeline of the Merriam Grand Central Station process, City Administrator Chris Engel told the Post via email.

  • Part of the $300,000 tax increment financing incentives for the Taco Bell redevelopment required developers to be current on property taxes at Kmart by June 1.
  • Engel said the city has not disbursed any money to Block & Company because the Kmart property taxes are not current.
  • Block & Company has not responded to requests for comment on this story. We reached an employee whose name was unclear on her voicemail recording. We also emailed company principal David Block and sent an email to the company’s general inquiry address. We’ll update this story if the company responds with comment.
Merriam Taco Bell demolished
The former Taco Bell at 8800 Shawnee Mission Parkway, above, is demolished. Photo credit Juliana Garcia.

Background: Merriam North Bell LLC, an affiliate of Block & Company, is redeveloping the site of the former Taco Bell into a Chipotle. The Merriam city council approved a $300,000 TIF incentive for the site in January, a month after councilmembers pressed developers on the delinquent taxes at the Kmart property. Block manages or represents both sites but does not own them.

  • If the developers were current on taxes, the city would have already disbursed the first half of the TIF incentive following the Taco Bell demolition — as outlined in the redevelopment agreement.
  • To be current means Block & Company pays all delinquent taxes and any current amount, which is generally at least half of the current year’s total tax bill, Engel said.

What’s next: Engel told us via email that Block & Company is tentatively scheduled to formally request the extension at the June 13 city council meeting.

  • The delinquent taxes have to be paid in order for Block to sell the Kmart property to Drake Development whether or not the city council grants an extension connected to the Taco Bell redevelopment, Engel said.
  • Developers will have to pay the delinquent taxes if the city council approves the Merriam Grand Station project, which is going before the city council on June 27.

Key quote: “The deadline is clear,” Councilmember Whitney Yadrich told the Post via text. “It was clear in January when Block & Company agreed to it. It was clear to the council when we approved it. It was clear to the news outlets that reported it. Asking for an extension mere hours before the due date is messy and disrespectful. Merriam citizens deserve community partners who handle their business, and I’m hopeful that’s what happens during the council meeting on June 13.”