According to numbers from the Downtown council, since 2001, the "downtown" economy has grown 45% since 2001 vs 33% growth metro-wide. By category:
Business License Tax - +49.7%
Restaurant Tax - +97.1%
Hotel Tax - +92.3%
Sales Tax - + 22.4%
Earnings tax - +121.8%
The Downtown Council argues that this increase is great for the city and that the massive investment in the downtown infastructure (much through TIF financing) is paying off with large growth in downtown.
Critics have stated much of the movement has been within the city -- attracting businesses, jobs and entertainment dollars from the suburbs so that it's more displacement revenue than real revenue growth -- and that projects like the Sprint Center and Power & Light District have been very costly to the city and taxpayers.
However, it should be noted that the metropolitan area's total growth compares pretty favorably to the nation as a whole.
The reality is every major metropolitan area is investing significantly in rebuilding their downtowns...including most of the cities with the largest growth (Portland, Omaha, Dallas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, and Denver) investing in things like new arenas/sports stadiums and light rail services in their downtowns. What KC is doing is necessary just to stay in competition with these cities.
Meanwhile, I saw an interesting article from out of Columbus this week. Columbus taxpayers are going to be forced to make a decision soon on whether they are going to provide funding for the upkeep of Nationwide Arena - -which was responsible for bringing Columbus an NHL Franchise, a renovated Arena District, billions of dollars in additional investments in the area and $850 million in visitor spending in the past 10 years.
It's hard to read the article and not see the similarities between the Columbus Arena District and our Power & Light District. While the financials on our P&L District have yet to pay out - -and maybe never officially will -- it is really hard to argue that Kansas City is in a much better position for long term growth in terms of tourism, new companies, and new residents, with a new arena and entertainment district in the South Loop area vs multiple blocks of surface parking, a drive in bank and an abandoned old movie theater that resided there before.
But the next step is to continue to use these taxpayer-funded initiatives to spur growth in private investments.
(Note: I couldn't find a picture of the P&L area prior to the new district being built. But this picture pretty accurately portrays how I remember it looking).