Patrick Ishmael

Steve Foutch is a Kansas City real estate developer who, at least before today, was pursuing taxpayer support to build a new 104-unit apartment complex in the Crossroads District. According to the Kansas City Business Journal, Foutch wanted a 10-year 100% abatement from the Land Clearance For Redevelopment Authority (LCRA), but according to the Star, the developer said he had negotiated a deal with Jackson County to pursue a tax abatement of 100% for five years and of 63% for the following five. The LCRA recommended, and approved, the 100% abatement but reduced the second five years to a 50% abatement.

That cut was apparently enough to instantly scuttle the project.

Seconds after the LCRA unanimously voted to approved the abatement package, Foutch shook his head and stood up from the 17th floor boardroom at Town Pavilion, where the agency holds its meetings.

“We’re not going to do the project,” Foutch told LCRA commissioners.

“That’s your choice,” LCRA chairman Michael Duffy responded.

...After the meeting, Foutch said that the financing for his project was “razor thin” and that the package that the LCRA approved was insufficient to make financing for his project work. He added that if interest rates or capitalization rates move “even a decimal,” it would affect his project’s financing.

Let's be crystal clear here: Taxpayers gave Foutch most of what he wanted. And if your financing margin for error is "razor thin" for a mixed-use project that sells upscale apartments in a growing district, then the bank is telling you that it doesn't think your project is a good one for their money. That Foutch was willing to cut bait immediately when he couldn't get all the taxpayer money he wanted tells you that Foutch doesn't think the project is a great project for his money either.

It isn't the role of taxpayers to be the investors of first resort for developments like this. Foutch's snap reaction to the LCRA's verdict suggests taxpayers may be dodging a bullet here with the developer's withdrawal from the project. And if the project is somehow resurrected? It shouldn't receive a wooden nickel of taxpayer support.

About the Author

Patrick Ishmael

Patrick Ishmael is the director of government accountability at the Show-Me Institute.