Midtown Tenant Union (MTU), a neighborhood chapter of KC Tenants, successfully organized to block Mac Properties’ request for a 75%, 15 year tax exemption at its Main and Armour project. During last week’s Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) Board of Commissioners meeting, 44 tenant leaders represented MTU, some in person and some on zoom, providing 19 opposing testimonies. By the end of the meeting, the KCATA Board of Commissioners rejected Mac’s proposal with a 6-2 vote. 

This victory comes after MTU sent the Board a letter of opposition with signatures from 285 individuals and organizations, including labor unions, small businesses, and local taxing jurisdictions. MTU also provided public comment before the RideKC Development Corporation Board, where Mac Properties first introduced its request. 

This is the second time the neighborhood union has faced off against Mac, who they call a “leading gentrifier in Midtown KC.” Last year, Mac Properties sought a $10.5 million tax increment financing deal from the City. After sustained opposition from MTU and many other community partners, City Council rejected the request, citing Mac Properties’ history of displacing existing Midtown residents, and voted instead to redirect the funds into the City’s Housing Trust Fund. 

This year, Mac Properties returned for an incentive, with a goal of exploiting a loophole created by the new KCATA development process. The transit agency’s unelected Board of Commissioners can grant incentives to developers for projects with zero affordability requirements. Their incentive-granting process does not include any financial analysis, so a developer does not have to prove their need for an incentive before receiving one. 

“MAC is a billion dollar company. It does not need a 75% tax abatement for 15 years or any incentives in any form. I’m tired of developers always using the term ‘affordable’ or now ‘transit-oriented’ to get funding when, in reality, it’s not affordable to someone like me,” said Ruby Watson, leader with Midtown Tenant Union.

 “The City already refused to subsidize this development. This tax abatement would have taken needed tax funds away from first responders, police and fire, school districts, and mental health programs. We do not need more luxury apartments. We need a better system, ”said Beverly Gokin, leader with Midtown Tenant Union, in her testimony. 

Midtown Tenant Union is a tenant union in midtown KC, covering the area of 45th to 25th St. from Troost to State Line, is led by a multigenerational, multiracial, anti-racist base of poor and working class tenants in the neighborhood

“I personally believe Kansas City needs walkable, transit-oriented communities. The price of creating these communities shouldn’t be displacing the people who rely on transit and stable, affordable housing,” said Sarah Davis, leader with Midtown Tenant Union. “What is a community without people?” 

 KC Tenants plans to continue organizing against unregulated, undemocratic incentives, including those proposed to move through RideKC.