In Kansas City, many tax increment financing zones are simply luring existing business to move and creating new sprawling development.
"Che and Elvis fashions caught my eye on a recent walk around Metro North Mall at U.S. Highway 169 and Barry Road. The shopping center, which opened in 1976, is on its last legs. Vacancies appear to outnumber the going concerns. The Limited is gone. In its place are stores with names like Unique Stuff and Ultimate Gifts.
Metro North's limited future is also evident at JCPenney, one of the remaining anchor tennants. Signs on the doors announce that the store will close in August. "We are relocating to better serve you," the sign says. A map points to a shopping center under construction four miles to the west.
The sign says a lot about what passes for economic development in Kansas City. Taxpayers are enabling the construction of JCPenney's future home. And for what? To relocate an existing department store.
JCPenney is moving to Tiffany Springs MarketCenter. Work on the shopping center, which is near Interstate 29 and Missouri Highway 152, is approaching completion. The familiar signs of Home Depot, Target and Best Buy are in place, awaiting a spark of electricity.
Tiffany Springs MarketCenter sits in a tax-increment-financing district. TIF is a tool that cities can use to spur development in distressed areas. But in Kansas City, TIF is often used to make sprawl."