The Citadel Plaza shopping center was supposed to revive the inner city. Instead, it has leveled a neighborhood and left a contaminated mess. Now the developer wants more of our money.

Your Tax Dollars Not at Work 

The Citadel Plaza shopping center was supposed to revive the inner city. Instead, it has leveled a neighborhood and left a contaminated mess. Now the developer wants more of our money.

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"Unfortunately, not only have positive outcomes not been forthcoming in a reasonable fashion, but collectively we are experiencing significant issues and challenges resulting from CDC-KC's lack of performance," the letter noted.

It took the CDC nearly four months to reply in writing. In his November 7 response, Threatt outlined the progress of the project and blamed City Hall for the delay.

Two days after Threatt sent that letter, though, the CDC-KC was hit with another lawsuit.

Adnan Khan owns a Valero gas station on 63rd Street, just west of Prospect. Earlier this year, the CDC-KC agreed to pay him $775,000 for his property. In October, Threatt sent Khan a letter giving him 18 days to vacate the premises. The CDC-KC then changed its story and said Khan could stay until the end of November if he paid $9,000 rent. More than the rent requirement, Khan was struck by the CDC-KC's insistence that he "not remove anything from the location."

Ron Bodinson, Khan's attorney, says his client has no problem turning over the property when the CDC-KC is ready to clear the land and start developing. "But he does object to them turning over the property to a competitor and them being able to sit there, using his equipment, making money," Bodinson says.

Threatt says the CDC-KC bought Khan's entire operation, not just the land.

Now, he says, the only thing holding up further development is a financing agreement with the city — an agreement lending the CDC-KC $45 million in taxpayer-backed bonds.

Threatt says he hopes that the City Council will authorize that $45 million early this year. "It has been very frustrating," he says of his negotiation with the city.

But if the city lends Threatt $45 million and Citadel Plaza doesn't break ground, or if it isn't as successful as the CDC-KC pro­jects, the public will be left with the debt.

Along the way, Citadel Plaza's troubles have stirred unusual tensions at City Hall.

That much was clear back on February 21, 2007, at what should have been another boring meeting.

That day, Threatt and a gallery of CDC-KC lawyers and financial backers sat before the City Council's Finance and Audit Committee. Their goal: Secure permission to negotiate a deal with the city manager — a deal for $55 million in city-backed bonds to start construction on the Citadel Plaza.

City Finance Director Deb Hinsvark told the committee that staffers from her department had been meeting frequently with the CDC-KC and that the two parties had "dramatically" different projections for how much revenue the Citadel Plaza would produce. The city's financial advisers believed that Citadel Plaza would ring up $55 million in TIF reve­nues over 20 years; the CDC-KC projected $101 million over the same length of time. The finance staffers suggested an independent study.

"We've been working very hard with this developer, and this does feel like a surprise end run around our staff," Hinsvark said of the CDC-KC's effort to negotiate a deal directly with Cauthen.

Riley accused Hinsvark of impeding the project. Other council members had to cut in to keep the meeting on track.

At one point, Hinsvark approached the microphone while council members were speaking. "I need to correct something I said earlier," she said.

"Hold on real quick," Riley interjected. "Never before have we had a staff member who, while the council is talking, abruptly gets up and interrupts and says, 'No, I want to talk right now.' That's totally inappropriate. I was trying to say something, and she just runs up to the microphone and arbitrarily cuts me out."

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