The Civic Mall tax increment financing redevelopment plan terminated in January 2018 with completed projects including the Charles Evans Whittaker Courthouse at 400 E. 9th Street, the Federal Aviation Administration Building at 901 Locust Street and the Ilus W. Davis Park at 1001 Locust that stretches between City Hall and the courthouse.
There had been no new development in this east Central Business District area since 1980 – 16 buildings had been demolished in that timeframe; of its 55 buildings, 20 percent were vacant and 75 percent of the land was either surface parking or vacant lots. Where the Ilus Davis Park is today (City Hall’s northward view) there were surface parking lots, the Hotel Schuyler, public housing, the vacant YMCA, the Ship Cocktail Bar and numerous other structures in fair to poor condition.
A determination by the Federal Judiciary that it needed a new courthouse was the original impetus for the Civic Mall TIF plan. A joint team consisting of EDCKC, the City of Kansas City, Missouri and Ozark National Life Insurance Co., responded to a request for proposals from the judiciary, submitting a proposal to acquire and clear the three blocks north of City Hall – providing the northern-most block to the Federal Judiciary for the new Charles Evans Whitaker Federal Courthouse – and to build a two-block public park between the new courthouse and City Hall. Once the RFP response was accepted, the City and the TIF Commission expanded the proposed TIF’s footprint to leverage this investment into further redevelopment of the adjacent areas of Downtown.
Subsequent developments included improved and expanded headquarters for JE Dunn, the Federal Aviation Administration Building and its parking facility at the northern end of the park, the Wolf Parking Garage on Oak Street and an office development on the block east of Ilus Davis Park between 9th & 10th Streets. McCownGordon Construction rehabilitated the property at 422 Admiral, bringing another vacant, blighted building back into use while additional residential development near these projects in the northeastern quadrant of the downtown loop has created nearly 500 new housing units in the Courthouse Lofts, The View, The Metropolitan, East Village Apartments, The Argyle, and East 9 at Pickwick.
Since tax increment financing became law in Missouri in 1982, the project approval process has evolved tremendously. It has now been made uniform with every application measured with the same, unforgiving yardstick. The AdvanceKC process, launched in 2011, is transparent to the affected taxing jurisdictions and those submitting projects for TIF consideration with the objective of extending private investment with public support at the least cost to the community for the greatest result.