By DAVID MARTIN
Philanthropist Shirley Helzberg knows how to win friends and influence people. Two critics of the lavish deployment of economic incentives came to City Hall this morning to support her plan to use tax-increment financing (TIF) to fix up a new headquarters for the Kansas City Symphony.
Helzberg wants to move the symphony into the old Vitagraph Building in the Crossroads. Helzberg and architect Jay Tomlinson talked about their plans for the building and other parcels along 17th Street at the Finance and Audit Committee meeting this morning.
Some usual suspects, such as developer and Crossroads Community Association President Shaul Jolles, spoke in favor of the plan. Even more encouraging for Helzberg, people who usually criticize TIF think her proposal has merit.
Crosby Kemper III, the Kansas City Public Library's executive director, said he was "very much in support" of Helzberg's TIF request. Kemper is usually critical of TIF and other incentives that freeze the property taxes on which the library relies.
Paul Hilpman, a TIF critic who owns the building that houses YJ's Snack Bar and other Crossroads merchants, also applauded the plan. Hilpman said Helzber's request for assistance was "exactly what TIF is intended to do."
Hilpman used a vivid metaphor to describe the way TIF is normally administered in Kansas City. He compared it to an "outboard motor used to stir paint."