The Kansas City Star reported over the Thanksgiving weekend that the Downtown Streetcar is spurring development along and around the streetcar line and the Transit Development District (pictured).
Reporter Kevin Collison’s story appeared in The Star on Friday, Nov. 29. Here is an excerpt:
If you’re looking for some solid — and tasty — evidence that the city’s decision to build a $100 million streetcar line downtown is prompting spinoff development, order some pho next spring from Jack Nguyen.
Nguyen plans to open a Vietnamese restaurant in a building at 500 Grand Blvd. that’s been empty and overlooked the past couple of years. He is leasing the space because it’s on the two-mile streetcar line linking Crown Center with the River Market and expected to open in 2015.
“People will take the streetcar who live in the downtown area to the River Market for lunch and dinner, and I also expect the streetcar will bring more tourists,” Nguyen said. “We expect more foot traffic in the River Market.”
After decades of trying, Kansas City finally is on the cusp of joining the dozens of other American cities that have invested in rail transit in recent years. And like other places, rail transit is viewed as being as much about encouraging development as moving people.
“We believe one of the single best investment opportunities in the country is transit-oriented development,” said Ed McMahon, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington. “The number of cities that have gotten into the rail side of things has grown rapidly.”
In addition to Nguyen’s restaurant, a couple of other developments have been announced in which the streetcar’s pending arrival figured prominently.
Most notably, a Colorado developer wants to build a five-story apartment building on what’s now a surface parking lot at 1914 Main St. And another group of local developers says the streetcar reinforced the decision to redevelop the old Corrigan Building at 1828 Walnut St. into 82 luxury apartments.
Not surprisingly, though, there’s some hyperbole rolling down the track as well.
The Downtown Council has released a map showing more than a half billion dollars of projects that have been announced since serious discussion of a streetcar plan began about three years ago.
They range from the proposed $71 million redevelopment of Commerce Tower at 911 Main into apartments to the opening of Anton’s Taproom at 1601 Main and even a $5 million garage being built in the Crossroads Arts District to serve the Webster House at 17th and Wyandotte streets.
Sean O’Byrne, vice president of business development for the Downtown Council, said the projects were included on his organization’s map because they were aided or prompted by the streetcar discussion.
“On average, we get two or three calls a week from developers, both local and national, inquiring about being located in close proximity to the streetcar line,” he said. “Several have put money down and purchased ground and are going through the process.”
To read the complete story in The Star, click here.