Downtown Council to celebrate accomplishments, opportunities

Christopher Leinberger will deliver the keynote address at the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon today in the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center.

The Downtown Council will celebrate the ongoing revitalization of Downtown Kansas City before 1,000 stakeholders and guests today (Friday), while reminding its members and civic leadership that its renaissance is far from complete.

The occasion will be the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Friday, Jan. 27 in the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center. This year’s luncheon will carry the theme of Downtown KC: Back in the Game and celebrate the remarkable revitalization of Downtown over the last 15 years.

“This was a banner year for Downtown Kansas City,” said Bill Dietrich, President & CEO of the Downtown Council. “The KC Streetcar began operations and topped its first 1 million rides in just five months of operations; five new hotels have opened or are under construction; the first new construction, luxury, residential high-rise building opened, along with a second elementary school bringing 576 students and their families Downtown.”

The 2017 luncheon program will feature several highlights that will serve to celebrate accomplishments in Downtown, as well as to set the course for new and ongoing initiatives for the coming years. Highlights include:

  • Keynote address by Christopher Leinberger, The Charles Bendit Distinguished Scholar and Research Professor, George Washington University School of Business and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Leinberger will address creating a vital Downtown by improving relationships with adjacent communities, discussing the impact of regional issues on Downtown and improving pedestrian mobility.
    • To learn more about Leinberger’s knowledge of KC, check out this 2012 KCPT story about the potential impact that the future streetcar (via transit-oriented development) would have on Downtown.
  • LaunchKC announcement by Rachel Merlo, KC Community Impact Manager for Google Fiber, and Chair, LaunchKC Steering Committee
  • Downtown accomplishments by Douglas Stockman, Principal, el dorado architects, and Cathy Smith, Vice President of Corporate Planning, Faultless Starch/Bon Ami, and Chairs of the DTC Board of Directors for 2016 and 2017, respectively
  • Five individuals will be recognized with Urban Hero Awards for their contributions toward making Downtown a better and more vibrant place to live, work and play, including:
    • Andrew Bracker, Brownfields Coordinator, City of Kansas City
    • Vince Bryant, 3D Development
    • Deb Churchill, City Market
    • Julie Nelson Meers, mobank
    • Matt Staub, Streetcar Advocate

The DTC’s highest honor, the  Philip Kirk, Jr. Award, in Recognition of Community Vision and Downtown Stewardship to Albert P. Mauro. Mauro served as Chairman of the DTC Board of Directors from 1992-1998, a pivotal time in the turnaround of a declining urban core.

“We will tell the story of Downtown’s recent economic and social revitalization and reflect on the impact of these and other changes,” Dietrich explained. “We will also provide updates on the exciting new projects that are coming closer to fruition including moving the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance to Downtown; extending the streetcar south toward UMKC and the Plaza; and planning for a new Downtown KC high school.”

The Annual Luncheon event will begin at 11 a.m. Friday with a one-hour Spirit of Downtown KC Exhibit showing more than 40 Downtown businesses and organizations.

Click here to see a list of exhibitors: The exhibit will make way for the luncheon and program, beginning at noon.

For more information, go to