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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | June 22, 2017

CASIt has been a long battle for Kansas City, but this city on Missouri's western edge, known for its jazz heritage and legendary barbecue, is finally going to get a new convention center hotel. Just days ago, City Council members voted 11 to 12 to pass a measure for a $310 million, 800-room property across the street from the Kansas City Convention Center.
 
The development, a proposal for which was publicly announced in May 2015, had been in discussions since 1999. It will be the first hotel built in downtown Kansas City in 32 years, and expectations are high at Visit KC, the city's marketing arm, that it will boost the destination's image with meeting planners.
 
kccc"This is a game changer for Kansas City," Ronnie Burt, president and CEO of Visit KC, told The Hotel Insider in discussing the green lighting of the long-awaited project. "Increasing our hotel-room inventory and meeting-space availability near the convention center are essential to building demand and incremental economic impact for our destination. Over the past 10 years, billions of dollars have been invested in our city, but top-tier hotel rooms constitute one of those final missing pieces."
 
For two years the hotel project has relied on the assumption that it would be a Hyatt-branded hotel. Yesterday, however, Visit KC made a surprising announcement that the new-build will be branded Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel. The property, which is expected to break ground this October, will be connected to the convention center by a bridge and will feature 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a full-service restaurant, a lobby bar and an indoor lap pool. It will be Loews' first hotel in Missouri.
 
According to Visit KC's 2016 annual report, the bureau has generated 294 group bookings accounting for 362,305 room nights for future years, with an estimated economic impact of $268 million. The new hotel, which is said to open in 2020, is expected to give Kansas City immediate cache, especially among groups who were considering the city but ultimately passed because of the project's long delay. One such group was the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, who pulled out in April of this year. "They chose to move their business elsewhere,” sad Burt. “Unfortunately, we will not have the opportunity to host the group until 2023.”
 
While Kansas City remained bogged down in discussions over the years, its competition — Austin, Denver, Indianapolis, Louisville (Ky.) and Nashville — fast-tracked developments that added major new products to their hotel inventories. But the way Burt sees it, even if Kansas City might have been sitting on the sidelines watching the game, it is now jumping in feet first. "Now, with the appropriate infrastructure finally coming into place, we can now capitalize on this momentum and more aggressively pursue the business we've been missing out on," said Burt.