• Much-Needed Child Care Center Will Benefit from New Economic Development Sales Tax
In 2017, Kansas City voters took a bold step to spark redevelopment along the Prospect Avenue corridor; they approved a new 1/8th-cent sales tax designated to support economic development in the area. The recent groundbreaking for KD Academy, a 24-hour childcare facility to be built near 21st and Prospect, is the fruition of that vision.
KD Academy will be the new expanded home for the Kiddie Depot, currently located at 34th and Woodland. Co-owners Penny and Myron McCann have been operating Kiddie Depot since 2012. Their first facility was a house-based childcare facility they opened in 2005 and still operate.
What’s particularly unique about the McCanns’ daycare is that it’s the only 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, daycare facility in the Kansas City area.
“We hear there’s a daycare in Olathe licensed to operate 24/7,” said Myron, “But they’re not operating that way.”
The McCanns didn’t have an “always open” model in mind when they opened their commercial location at 34th and Woodland. Their initial hours were a more traditional 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., but they began expanding their hours in response to demand.
“When we started looking at what it would take to do it, we saw what those numbers would do for us, and we added a second shift,” said Myron.
From the second shift, the demand grew for a third, and pretty soon they were a 24/7 operation. The parents of their kids are factory workers, casino employees, first responders, service-industry workers and hospital and health-care professionals.
In addition to serving parents who work non-traditional hours, 60% of their children receive state subsidy to help cover the cost of their care.
It was this business-model — that provided so much for the community — that caught the attention of the Central City Economic Development Sales Tax Board. The board’s members are responsible for reviewing and recommending proposals that will use the tax receipts for economic development in the area bounded by Ninth Street on the north, Gregory Boulevard on the south, the Paseo on the west and Indiana Avenue on the east.
This tax, which will run for 10 years, is expected to generate about $10 million annually. The priority for funding is commercial/industrial and residential development projects. While some funds might go to large-scale projects, smaller projects were not to be ignored. They are looking for small projects that together with other developments, can have a growing impact on the community.
The McCanns’ project, at $3.5 million, may be large to some, but it’s relatively small in relation to the overall development area.
Their proposal met two other priority goals of the board; their new 14,000 sq.-ft. facility replaces currently blighted property and creates jobs. At their new location, the McCanns will go from handling 125 children every 24 hours to 400 children every 24 hours, which will require additional staff. At capacity, the couple anticipates their staff will grow from 22.5 at their current locations to 60 at KD Academy.
“When you think about KD Academy, and the quality care that they provide and the early learning opportunities that they provide for working people … childcare is a critical barrier to economic mobility. So to have this resource in the community, it’s a game-changer,” said Third District CouncilwomanMelissa Robinson.
The Central City Economic Development Sales Tax board backed their project unanimously and their project whizzed favorably through the city council. They were approved for a $1 million grant.
With the traditional requirement of 20% down on a $3.5 million project, the McCanns could need $700,000 to secure financing for the project. “It’s requirements like that that keep businesses from building in the urban core,” says Myron.
The sales tax funds, he says, will help close those gaps and some of the requirements that keep people from building here,” he said.
Construction on the project is expected to begin in first quarter 2020, with project completion in September 2020.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas calls the project the perfect example of a public-private partnership in a part of town that’s often ignored.
“I grew up here … you don’t see a lot of stuff happen on Prospect all the time, and you particularly don’t see a lot of stuff happen on Prospect where you have two Black business owners who are part of it,” Lucas said at the groundbreaking. “And I’m excited that we get a chance to celebrate that.”