Sunday, August 28, 2011

Missed Opportunities - Again

While some city council members keep screaming that we need economic development (commercial development), what is being done to get it?

Fast food resturants are not the answer, see the post at Oh, and by the way, where is it?

The recent Kanrocksas concert at Village West pulled in about 60,000 people for 2 days. A bit short of their original prediction of 100,000, but then this was the first of what is supposed to be an annual event. Willie Nelson's Farm Aid pulled in over 18,000 shortly after.

What did we in Shawnee get from those two events?

We are approximately 7 minutes south of the Village West complex. A complex that was started approximately 10 years ago.The casino going in up there is moving along quite nicely. There will also be a major hotel to go with it. With the right type of development along the I-35 corridor we could receive some benefits from this. Will we ever see it? I doubt it

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is It a Hotel or Pie In The Sky

Let's use the article in today's Shawnee Dispatch as a reference point:

The hotel project began in 2008. Basically very little has been done since then. Some structures that were on the property and are still there have deteriorated to the point that they are safety hazards. Not to mention eyesores.

So, what is happening? The city is going to hold a public hearing to make a determination. If the items are determined to be hazards and the owners do not take them down the city will demolish them. Then the city will have to bill the owners for that action.

Now, in the above referenced article appears this, from city manager Carol Gonzales:

"Gonzales said the city wanted to maintain a positive relationship with the hotel group and looked forward to the new development. However, she said, the blighted structures have reached the point where they are unsafe."

Duhhhhh!!!!!!! What kind of relationship does the developer want to maintain with the city? Why after receiving various notices about this problem have they failed to act? Why are they willing to let the city go to the expense of demolishing the structures? If the city has to do it, will the developers repay the city? Or will legal action have to be taken to recoup the funds?

The cost of demolition is about $20K...............a drop in the bucket of the budget for the construction of a hotel of this size.  Kinda makes a person wanna ask how committed is the developer to this project.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sellin' Gold

A little over a week ago I decided to take advantage of the price on gold and sell off two pieces that I don't need anymore.

One was a man's bracelet that I bought over 30 years ago in San Diego and the other was a company ring with a diamond from a company that I no longer work for.

Learned some interesting things, that I'd like to pass on. First, the price that you hear in the media is for 24k gold. Second, you're not going to get that since whoever buys it from you has to have room to make a profit. Because of that I had a price in mind of $650-$750.

With that in mind I took the 2 pieces (both were 14k) to a pawn shop on 87th Street that says they buy gold. The gentleman there offered me $400. Something just told me not to even bother trying to negotiate.

Then I went to this place over on 76th St and Metcalf that gold buying is their business. Nicely decorated, coffee available , kinda trying to make ya feel at home. The young man there, after going through some gyrations offered me $300. Told him he was crazy. His place was supposed to be a "gold buying store" and a pawn shop just offered me $400. He went through some more gyrations and called "one of the owners". Came back to me with an offer of $500. Told him he was too short and I didn't appreciate his feeble attempt at low balling me.

Then I went to a pawn shop on 75th Street. He was pretty close. He offered me $500 right off the bat, and when I went to negotiate for what I wanted he countered with $575, as the best he could do (gettin' closer) but if I came back the next day the boss might be able to do better. I liked his demeanor.

My next stop was Thompson's Jewelry at 6642 Nieman Rd. Beautiful..........John offered me $600 from the start. Then I asked if he had looked at the diamond (about 1/3 carat). He admitted he had not, he thought I might want it to do something else. When he looked at it, he said he could bump the price another $50. Now he was right in line with what my original self estimate was. We made the deal.

Moral of the business with local merchants, especially when selling gold. Remember, the prices I was given were as low as $300 to what I finally got, $650 (well, $600 for the gold) . That's a spread.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vaught's Comparison of Shawnee to Liberty (MO) Faulty

Prior to voting on the CID for 10 Quivira Plaza 3rd ward council rep Jeff Vaught attempted to compare Shawnee with Liberty, MO.

One of the arguments against the CID was that it would increase the sales tax paid on food, since the primary retailer in that shopping center is a grocery store.

Well Mr. Vaught brought out some info that Liberty had multiple CIDs and that two of them had grocery stores.

Something didn't seem right, but I did not have the info at hand. Now I do. Liberty officials were contacted and the information received is very interesting.

In Liberty, when one shops at a grocery store the sales tax on groceries is 3% LESS than non-grocery items. OK, let's break that down. In the two shopping centers he was talking about, the sales tax (with the 1% for their CID) is 8.6%, but on grocery items it is only 5.6%. Prior to the CID the sales taxes would have been 7.6% and 4.6%. So, in Liberty the tax did go up on grocery items, but the total tax paid on them is still quite a bit less than on non-grocery items.

So as to make sure everyone knows what qualifies as a grocery item, Missouri uses the federal guidelines for SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program, formerly food stamps). If it is an item that can be purchased with SNAP it qualifies as a grocery item for the reduced sales tax rate. The reduced sales tax rate applies to all individuals not just SNAP recipients.

How come Mr Vaught did not mention the bi-level sales tax in grocery stores there?  Curious, did he do his own research or was he spoon fed the info?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

CID Approval

This past Monday the city council approved a CID (Community Improvement District) for 10 Quivira Plaza.

My opinion still stands that this is a bad precedent to use this type of financing tool for a neighborhood shopping center.  The increased 1/2% sales tax will go to helping the ownership revitalize the center.  Others might now apply for the same type of financing which could result in shopping center specific tax increases of up to 2%.

In this case the ownership will be spending $2.8 million and the sales tax is being used to obtain an additional $1.4 million for the revitalization.  I applaud the ownership for their willingness to secure the $2.8 million.  That is the American way.  I criticize them for using the citizens of Shawnee (especially Ward 2) to finance the balance.

One of the arguments used by some on the council to support the tax increase was that if the ownership had to finance the improvements then they would raise the rents and the citizens would still be paying more.  Duhhhhh.................they are using $2.8 million of their own (or secured).  Won't they still raise rents?  Leaving the merchants to pass that on to the citizens?  Maybe not on stores that have existing leases, but what about at renewal time?  What about when the empty stores are filled?  Won't the revitalization be a selling tool for setting their rental rates higher?

Now, another argument for approving the CID was that by improving the shopping center it will be assessed at a higher value, bringing in more property tax dollars to the city. the ownership going to absorb those property tax increases?  Of course not.  Rents will still be set higher.

Then, when the ownership sells the center, for a profit which they are entitled to, the new ownership would have to also adjust rents............which means the merchants will still have to increase their prices.

So, what does that mean?  It means that the arguments that without the CID the rents would go up and prices also, are/were bogus arguments.  Prices are still going to go up. The sales tax increase will just be
on a higher retail price, ergo, a larger dollar amount.

Three of the five council reps who voted for this increase are up for reelection in 8 months (April 2012).

I strongly urge folks to work against their reelection.  Even if you are not in their ward, there is nothing to stop you from working against their reelection.

These are:

Mickey Sandifer.............ward 4...........talks about caring about senior citizens but I don't see that
Dawn Kuhn..........ward 3.............also was a strong supporter of the 5% franchise fee..........send her packing
Jim Neighbor..........ward 1............wasn't even elected......appointed to fill Cheryl Scott's remaining time............nice guy, but a review of the resum├ęs of the others who applied for the position was not, IMHO the best qualified.

Monday, August 08, 2011

I'll Be There............Will You?

Tonight, the public hearing for the proposed Community Improvement District at 10 Quivira Plaza (Quivira Rd & Shawnee Mission Parkway).

This would include a 1/2% sales tax increase, just for that shopping center, which would include the Price Chopper Supermarket.

Shawnee City Hall, Nieman Rd & Johnson Dr at 7:30PM

Be there..........get involved.........voice your opinions.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Another Reminder

Monday................8/8/11.......7:30PM.................City Hall

On the agenda:  The proposed Community Improvement District for 10 Quivira Plaza

Be there.................voice your opinion.............

Tell your friends, family about this important meeting.  It could set a precedent.  Is it a precedent that you want?  Let's hear you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Be There, Monday August 8, 2011


Public hearing for the proposed Community Improvement District at 10 Quivira Plaza will be Monday, August 8, 2011 at 7:30 PM in the city council chambers, Johnson Drive and Nieman Rd.

This is an important issue for many reasons, including the possibility of a 1/2% sales tax increase for the shops in the district.  Keeping in mind that the largest generator of revenue in the shopping center is a grocery store.

Be there at the hearing with your opinions............the good, the bad and the ugly.............but be there.