21c Museum Hotel Kansas City opens today (Tuesday)

The 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City officially opens its doors today (Tuesday). Downtown Council members and friends are invited to join in the opening ceremonies and tours, beginning at 3 p.m. today.

The Kansas City property, 219 W. 9th St. (in the former Hotel Savoy space) becomes the eighth 21c Museum Hotels in the nation. Founded in Louisville, 21c Museum Hotels are located in Louisville, Cincinnati, Bentonville, Durham, Lexington, Oklahoma City, Nashville and – beginning today – Downtown Kansas City.

The 21c Museum Hotels represent a fusion of contemporary art museums, boutique hotels and chef-driven restaurants, like The Savoy 21c right here in Kansas City.

To learn more, visit the 21c Museum Hotels website, or just stop by the 21c Kansas City for a breathtaking experience.

KC Streetcar ridership breaks record highs this month

The KC Streetcar posted, err, shattered two records this month for ridership on the Downtown starter line.
For the week of July 2 – 8, the KC Streetcar recorded its highest weekly ridership to date with 78,998 rides. On Friday, July 6, which also happened to be a First Friday in Downtown KC, the streetcar recorded its highest daily ridership to date with a total of 19,181 rides. That is nearly 2,000 more rides than the previous record day of May 6, 2017, which had a daily ridership total of 17,267.
Ridership for the week of July 2, 2018, totaling 78,998, looked like:
  • July 2: 8,048 rides
  • July 3: 8,933 rides
  • July 4 (Independence Day): 13,314 rides
  • July 5: 9,713 rides
  • July 6: 19,181 rides
  • July 7: 13,269 rides
  • July 8: 6,540 rides

“The public response has been amazing. Our service is consistently carrying thousands of passengers a day and has helped redefine the Downtown Kansas City experience for residents, employees and visitors,” said Tom Gerend, executive director, KC Streetcar Authority.

The summer months tend to be the busiest for streetcar ridership, with the previous months of July being the highest months for ridership. July 2016 was the highest monthly ridership to date with 233,683 rides, followed by July 2017 with 230,925 rides for the month.

“There seems to be an uptick in Downtown activity this summer between the events, conventions, and new restaurant, hotel and business openings. All of that, plus the 25,000 residents that now call Downtown home, leads to higher ridership on the KC Streetcar,” said Donna Mandelbaum, communications director with the KC Streetcar Authority.

Ridership is important but so is safety and reliability. The KC Streetcar has an average on-time performance of nearly 95 percent. This means that the streetcar arrives when expected and delivers passengers safely to their destination.

The KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA) is also committed to partnering with organizations and groups that can use the streetcar to explore Downtown. KCSA is currently partnered with the Art in the Loop Foundation to bring art to public spaces, which includes nine art installations/performances and eight live music performances on board the streetcars and at streetcar stops.

The KCSA is also partnering with the Eric Berry Foundation, Union Station, SoFar Sounds KC, the KCP&L District, First Fridays in the Crossroads, the KC Library, the Downtown Council, 816 Day/Downtown Neighborhood Association, the City Market, VisitKC, as well as local businesses and groups to promote their events as well as promote the streetcar as a safe and reliable form of transit to and from those events.

The free KC Streetcar runs daily from Union Station north to the City Market and back again. For more information, visit KCStreetcar.org.

Western Auto sign to light up Downtown once again

The iconic Western Auto sign – erected in 1952 – will once again light up the Downtown sky. A lighting ceremony for the newly renovated sign is set for 8:45 p.m. today (Friday).

The iconic Western Auto sign is will light up the Downtown Kansas City sky once again, beginning tonight (Friday).

The top of that wedge-shaped building at 21st Street and Grand Boulevard used to come alive each night with light and color as the Western Auto sign blazed above Kansas City, according to The Kansas City Star.

The 65-year-old sign – which has been dark for years – will be illuminated again beginning at 8:45 p.m. today (Friday). The words “Western Auto” will be in red while white lights will form a repeating circular arrow around them.

You can thank the members of the Western Auto Lofts Condominium Association, who live in the building. They footed the bill to repair and restore the iconic sign, according to The Starwhich reported:

  • The sign is 73 feet high and 70 feet across. The letters are 10 feet tall.
  • The arrow is 150 feet long and is made of 30 tons of steel. It included about 2,500 incandescent bulbs.
  • The sign also incorporates about 1,000 feet of red and green neon tubing. It required five miles of wiring.

“The association is thrilled to give this gift back to the residents of Kansas City and can’t wait to be a part of the skyline once more,” said an announcement on the association’s Facebook page.

To read the complete story, visit The Kansas City Star.

Application window closes today for LaunchKC competition

Grant winners from the 2017 LaunchKC competition celebrated their selections at the close of the LaunchKC Pitch Day last September at the historic Power and Light Apartment Building.

Tech entrepreneurs have one more day – or, until midnight tonight – to apply for a share of the $500,000 grant pool offered by LaunchKC, the grants competition for tech startups.

The deadline to file an online application is midnight, Wednesday, July 11.

“You can’t win, if you don’t enter. And, today is the deadline for entrepreneurs to enter the LaunchKC competition,” said Mike Hurd, chief marketing officer for LaunchKC, an initiative of the Downtown Council and the Economic Development Corporation.

This year marks the fourth annual LaunchKC competition for tech startup and early stage businesses. Entrepreneurs who apply by midnight will enter a competition that could result in one of nine grants totaling $500,000.

“The 2018 LaunchKC grants application is available online now through midnight Wednesday,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president for business and job development at the EDC and the leader of the grants competition. “This is your opportunity to compete for a share of the grant pool.”

Entrepreneurs can apply for a LaunchKC grant online via the www.LaunchKC.org website. And, with less than 24 hours left before the application window closes, Hurd offered five reasons why a budding business leader should still apply:

  • Cash grants are at stake for the best startup and early stage businesses. LaunchKC will award eight $50,000 grants, plus one $100,000 grand prize.
  • Industry-specific mentoring support coordinated by the Small Business Technology Development Center at UMKC.
  • Educational programming and professional services for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs.
  • Pitching in the big show
    • Following weeks of assessment, LaunchKC judges will select 20 finalists to advance to Techweek in Kansas City (Oct. 8-12), where they will make their pitches before a live judging panel and audience on Friday, Oct. 12 at Union Station.
  • You can’t win, if you don’t enter

To apply, go to the online application … right now.

LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri, working in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri.

LaunchKC Sponsors 

LaunchKC and its core group of sponsors – include the Missouri Technology Corporation, along with the City of Kansas City, The Cordish Companies, Downtown Council, Dunn Family Foundation, Economic Development Corporation, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, ITEN, Kansas City Power & Light, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Lathrop Gage, Lead Bank, LightEdge Solutions, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Polsinelli, RubinBrown, Spring Venture Group, Techweek and UMB Bank.

LaunchKC Partners

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Fountain City Fintech, the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center, the Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships, and the UMKC Bloch School of Management.

 

CID Ambassador Moon receives first Harvey Fried Award

The first Harvey Fried Award was presented to CID Ambassador Daniel Moon, center, by Sean O’Byrne, left, executive director of the CIDs, and Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs. The Fried Award was created in 2018 to honor outstanding service by Community Improvement District ambassadors in Downtown and the River Market.

Daniel Moon has been awarded the 2018 (and first) Harvey Fried Award in recognition of outstanding service by a CID Ambassador.

Moon, 38, has been a Safety Ambassador for 13 of his 14 years working for the Community Improvement Districts.

Harvey Fried

“Daniel is an ideal Ambassador,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs. “He is naturally friendly, happy and has a heart for helping people. He’s just built that way.”

Born in Buford, Georgia, Moon moved to Kansas City when he was 10. He attended Southwest High School, and always had a passion for working Downtown. The Community Improvement District gave him that opportunity in 2004, as a Maintenance Ambassador. A year later, he was promoted to Safety Ambassador.

“While we have many Ambassadors who deserve this award, we are proud to give the first Harvey Fried Award to Daniel Moon,” said Sean O’Byrne, executive director of the CIDs. “Even though Daniel is always friendly and smiling, it doesn’t mean that he can’t get tough when the situation calls for it.”

“I was surprised and honored to win the ‘Harvey’,” Moon said. “I like to keep a smile on my face. And, when you do that, I believe something great is going to happen.”

The new, annual Harvey Fried Award is named for the venerable champion of Downtown Kansas City, who passed away on April 30. Harvey was a community leader and friend of the CIDs. He was a founding board member of the Downtown CID, and served in that role since 2002, including board secretary in 2018.

“Harvey had a special place in his heart for our Ambassadors, and I want them to know his legacy,” O’Byrne said, when he addressed a Celebration of Life for Harvey in late May. “The award will be presented annually in recognition of leadership, esprit de corps, compassion to others, and – above all else – kindness.

“Harvey was a great man. We want to make sure his memory lives on.”

NY Times shines global spotlight on Downtown KC

The KC Streetcar: Credit Anna Petrow for The New York Times

The Perfect Way to Explore Modern Kansas City? A Streetcar, Believe It or Not

The contemporary trolley, introduced in 2016, takes visitors to an arts district, an entertainment district and a happy state of mind.

By Richard Rubin, The New York Times

In 2002, when Sylvester “Sly” James moved his law office to downtown Kansas City, Mo., he made a wager with a colleague. “I bet him I could walk across Main Street naked at 6 p.m. and nobody would see it,” he recalled. “And the proof that I was right is that no video of that has ever shown up on YouTube.” Downtown, he said, “was freakin’ desolate.”

A decade later, Chris Hernandez remembered, he saw an item on the local news about a two-car accident downtown one evening at 7. “I took it as a sign that things were turning around,” he said. “There were actually two cars there to hit each other!”

As it turns out, Mr. Hernandez was onto something: Things were, in fact, starting to turn around. Today Kansas City can be said to have actually achieved the elusive dream of scores of proud old American cities that have seen better days: It has revived its downtown, which now skews closer to “bustling” than “desolate” many nights.

Mr. Hernandez is the city’s director of communications; Mr. James is its mayor. Both can rattle off countless examples of nearly miraculous urban revitalization: thriving businesses in storefronts that stood vacant for years; gleaming new high-rise apartment blocks that are largely (some say entirely) rented out even before they’re completed; vibrant arts and culinary scenes. But you can see what is arguably the single best embodiment of the phenomenon for yourself at regular intervals as you stroll along — or even stand still on — downtown’s Main Street.

If at this point your mind absolutely must drift to 1940s musical lyrics, I recommend nudging it away from “everything’s up to date in Kansas City” and toward “clang clang clang went the trolley” (even though, technically, that one is set in St. Louis; same state, anyway).

Pizzas at Il Lazzarone, a restaurant at the River Market West streetcar stop. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Yes: Kansas City has a trolley. And not one of those old-timey trolleys that doesn’t go much of anywhere and goes there slowly. The one in Kansas City is sleek. Modern. Has air-conditioning and Wi-Fi.It runs a real route — 2.2 miles from end to end, then back again — through the heart of downtown.

At peak times, like rush hour, one comes along every 10 minutes; off-peak, it’s more like every 12 to 18 minutes. (Every stop has digital kiosks announcing how soon the next one will be along.) It starts running at 6 a.m. and doesn’t stop until midnight on weeknights, 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. (This being the Midwest, on Sundays it starts late — 7 a.m. — and shuts down early, at 11 p.m.)

Oh: And it’s free.

And not, technically, a trolley; they take great care here to remind you (cheerfully) that it’s a streetcar. That may seem like a distinction without a difference, but it reflects the way the city and its denizens view it. A trolley, in this day and age, is a self-conscious quaintness, almost an amusement-park ride; a streetcar, on the other hand — as Mr. Hernandez explained — is more of a “pedestrian accelerator.”

And, as it turns out, an attraction, too.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

In my experience, the whole “Midwestern nice” thing can be overstated; but not when it comes to Kansas City. Step off the KC Streetcar (as it is officially known) and look around as if you don’t know where you are going and a passer-by will stop and ask where you’re trying to get to. Sport that expression while you’re still riding it and someone sitting across the aisle from you will do the same thing. Ask them how they like the streetcar and they will tell you, sincerely and in a fair bit of detail.And they do like it. They ride it. The city — which has a population just under a half-million — projected one million riders in the streetcar’s first year; it got twice as many by day 364. A year later that figure exceeded four million.

No one would have predicted such a phenomenon as recently as the beginning of this decade.Back then, Mr. James recalled, “things were slow here. People were depressed. They didn’t believe the city could do things.”

But then Kansas City won a lottery of sorts: In the spring of 2011 — just as Mr. James was starting his first term as mayor — Google announced that it would be inaugurating its broadband internet and television service, Google Fiber, there. “That was a big boost,” Mr. James recalled. “Google was putting us on the map — we could leverage that.”

They did. The streetcar — which made its first run on May 6, 2016 — wasn’t by any means the only element of downtown’s revitalization, but it was perhaps the boldest, and certainly the most dynamic. “It’s been a tremendous catalytic thing,” Mr. James said. “It’s created much more flow—more profits for businesses downtown, more foot traffic.” In the streetcar’s first year of operation, revenue from sales taxes along its route — an area known as the Transportation Development District, or T.D.D. — rose 54 percent, as opposed to 16 percent citywide.

Birdie’s, a boutique in the Crossroads Arts District. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

If this seems like a boon for those businesses, you could say they earned it: “They decided it would be free,” the mayor explains — paid for by a special assessment on business owners and residential landlords along the T.D.D. (The construction boom in new high rises that are rented out before they’re even completed would seem to indicate that landlords are O.K. with the surtax, too.) “The funds,” Mr. James said, “are more than sufficient to cover the costs. It’s worked out very well.”

Unlike most successful ventures, few individuals have claimed credit for Kansas City’s streetcar; most, when asked, will give you an answer like Mr. Hernandez’s: “It was a very grass-roots effort,” he said. “How to create the streetcar, where it should go. Businesses and residents were involved at every step — where to have stops, their exact placement, even what they should look like.”

The route they all devised does a good job of introducing downtown Kansas City to both tourists and locals who had never really gotten acquainted with it before — and, perhaps coincidentally, showcasing the area’s revival.

It starts and ends at the point where decades of visitors arrived at and departed from the city: Union Station, an imposing 1914 classical structure that, despite its grandeur and the fact that it once hosted more than a half million travelers a year, was actually closed for a decade and a half in the 1980s and 90s; today it’s a museum as well as a functioning rail depot, and the anchor of a neighborhood that includes the Crown Center,an indoor shopping and entertainment complex, and the National World War I Memorial and Museum.

Farmers sell fresh meats and produce at City Market at River Market. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Heading north, it stops next at the Crossroads Arts District, a neighborhood of old warehouses and factories that have been reclaimed as live/work spaces and is now home to a lively arts scene. Then comes the Power & Light District — named for an Art Deco 1931 skyscraper that was for decades both the home of the local electric utility company and the tallest building west of the Mississippi — which is the city’s newest entertainment district; it features the Sprint Center (a sports and concert arena), Kansas City Live! (a block-square outdoor atrium surrounded by pubs and restaurants and containing a performance stage and massive Jumbotron), most of those new residential high rises and, naturally, the world headquarters of H & R Block.

The next stop is Metro Center, home to government buildings, business offices, hotels, cafes and restaurants; then the Library stop, named for the city’s Central Library, which occupies a 1906 bank building that features 13-foot-high bronze doors, a roof garden with a life-size chess set, and a basement vault that has been converted to a movie theater; then the North Loop, which doesn’t have much of note yet except a neat older Western Union building and a neat newer office building known as “the flashcube” because, well, it looks like a flashcube; and finally the River Market, which includes old warehouses that have been converted to lofts, lots of restaurants and an expansive farmer’s market that has been going year-round since 1857.

There are edifices worthy of a good long look all along the route, but none more arresting than what you will spot looking out the window to your left as you shuttle from Crossroads to Power & Light: There, up on a hill, is the Moshe Safdie-designed Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2011 and which, depending upon your aesthetic sensibilities, you will find either sublime or terrifying.

The National World War I Memorial and Museum. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

It contains two 1,500-plus-seat theaters, each of which, I am told, has fine acoustics; the building, which sits on more than 18 acres, is said to have been so well-designed that it can and often does host two different performances simultaneously without any aural crossover. In addition to hosting touring companies, the city’s symphony orchestra and opera and ballet companies all call it home. “We have a very strong arts scene here in Kansas City,” Jean Luzader, a volunteer at the Kauffman Center, told me. “People think we have cows running through the streets, you know, but we don’t.”

Streetcars — once almost ubiquitous, later almost extinct — are having a moment: In the past five years, lines have also started operating in Salt Lake City, Tucson, Dallas, Cincinnati and Detroit. (Two others, in Milwaukee and Oklahoma City, are scheduled to open by the end of this year.) Some have been more successful and transformative than others, but few seem to have had the impact of Kansas City’s. It’s the only one that’s free to ride, but what really makes it distinct is the palpable sense that is more than just a way of moving people around: It’s a movement — one that, judging by the crowds riding on weekends, transcends age and ethnicity.

Everyone seems to like each other, too. “When you’re on the streetcar,” Mr. Hernandez said, “you truly get a sense of community. It gets people off their phones and talking to each other again. I see it every time I’m on it. I think people who are from Kansas City are having fun talking to visitors and telling them about places they should check out.”

The Crossroads Arts District. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Of course, many of them — locals and visitors — are there to check out the streetcar itself.Riding it around and around will strike a certain type of person as a fine — not to mention economical — way to pass a few hours. Technically, you’re supposed to get off and re-board every time it pulls into Union Station; but this being the Midwest, no one will get too terribly upset if you stay put instead. Just smile.


Richard Rubin is the author of “The Last of the Doughboys” and “Back Over There.”

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article inaccurately described Kansas City’s location in relation to the Mississippi River. It is west of the river, not east.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page TR9 of the New York edition with the headline: It’s Not Named Desire, but They Love It Just the Same. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Mayor Barnes honored for her legacy, commitment to Downtown

Mayor Sly James praises former Mayor Kay Barnes accomplishments at the celebration last week.

By Kevin Collison, CitySceneKC.com

Former Mayor Kay Barnes now has the Convention Center Grand Ballroom named after her, but her lasting legacy was on display beyond the windows of the ballroom lobby where the event was held last week.

From its vantage point above the South Loop freeway, the Sprint Center, H&R Block office tower and Power & Light District were clearly visible.

“Look out the window and you’ll see what Kay did,” Mayor Sly James told the audience. “I have a sense of what that took. People don’t like the way things are, but they hate change. Kay Barnes set the stage for this city’s revival that we see continuing to flourish today.”

Barnes became mayor in 1999 when much of the south third of the Central Business District was in shambles after decades of neglect. Attorney Herb Kohn, who was master of ceremony at the ballroom dedication ceremony, checked off the sad list.

“Downtown consisted of a wig shop, a dirty bookstore, a massage parlor and lots of empty office buildings,” he said, adding a couple of those buildings were used as haunted houses a few weeks out of the year. “Kay’s vision was clear, ‘I want to rebuild Downtown.'”

Former Mayor Barnes enjoys unveiling of sculpture honoring her, “Woman Walking Tall” by Kansas City artist Tom Corbin.

The first step was persuading H&R Block to relocate its headquarters from Main Street near the Country Club Plaza to 13th and Main. At the same time, Baltimore-based Cordish Co. was approached about creating an entertainment district on the surrounding eight blocks.

The third critical piece of the revival puzzle was when Barnes used her friendship with Tim Leiweke, then a top executive at Los Angles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to partner on a new arena at Truman Road and Grand. It didn’t hurt that Barnes had met Phil Anschutz, the AEG founder, while both attended the University of Kansas.

Click here to read the complete story in CitySceneKC.Com, including a video clip of the event.

Don’t miss any Downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.

Voters say YES to KC Streetcar extension to UMKC

The KC Streetcar reached a milestone on Wednesday, as voters approved local funding for 3.5-mile extension from Union Station to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Voters in the Main Street Rail Transportation Development District (TDD) have overwhelmingly approved the local funding structure to support the KC Streetcar Main Street Extension. The final tally was roughly 75.6 percent yes on Question 1 (sales tax) and 74.7 percent yes on Question 2 (special assessments). Final results are available on the KC Election Board website,

In August 2017, these same voters approved formation of the Kansas City Main Street Rail TDD with a 70 percent yes vote and in October 2017, entire slate of TDD Board of Directors endorsed by Mayor Sly James was elected to oversee the TDD. This was the third in a series of local elections to seek local approval for a KC Streetcar Main Street Extension project.

The Main Street Rail TDD is a separate entity from the Kansas City Streetcar Authority and the City of Kansas City, Missouri. This latest election allows the TDD Board of Directors to impose the TDD’s revenue sources, which will generate local funding to support the Main Street extension of the KC Streetcar.

The TDD’s revenue sources will not be collected until the extension is fully funded, either through Federal grants or other non-TDD sources and will replace and expand the existing downtown TDD used to support the starter-line’s construction and operations. The TDD boundary extends from the Missouri River on the north to 53rd Street on the south; State Line Road on the west to Campbell Street on the east.

“We are grateful for the voter’s support today and will work closely with the KCSA, the City of Kansas City and the KCATA to ensure this projects’ success. We are also grateful for all the hard work, time and energy put in by the volunteers and transit advocates during this election process,” said Jan Marcason, chair of the TDD.

The funding structure is similar to the current downtown TDD structure in which:

  • A sales tax not to exceed 1 percent on retail sales within the TDD boundary.
  • A special assessment on real estate within the TDD boundary, with maximum annual rates as follows:
    • 48¢ for each $100 of assessed value for commercial property
    • 70¢ for each $100 of assessed value for residential property
    • $1.04 for each $100 of assessed value for property owned by the City
  • 40¢ for each $100 of assessed value for real property exempt from property tax, such as religious, educational, charitable, etc. property, but only on market value more than $300,000 and less than $50 Million.

A supplemental special assessment on surface pay parking lots within the TDD boundary (not garages and not free parking lots). The maximum rate for the supplemental special assessment on surface pay parking lots will be $54.75 per space per year. This special assessment primarily applies to parcels in the Downtown area.

“The completion of our local funding mechanism is a critical step necessary to advance this project for federal funding and bring the project to life,” said Tom Gerend, executive director with the Kansas City Streetcar Authority. “This is one step in a long process but the strong support from the public is a great motivator for all of us and reinforces the importance of making this vision a reality.”

The KC Streetcar project team, consisting of the KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA), the KC Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), the City of Kansas City, MO (KCMO), and the consultant team led by HDR, Inc., has continued to advance the project planning for the Main Street Extension to UMKC, including work to refine streetcar stop locations, track alignments, and coordinated transit connections.

The KC Streetcar Main Street Extension project is being planned through a data-driven process. In order to build the best streetcar extension for Kansas City, the planning group is looking at operational efficiency, cost, constructability and public input. The Main Street extension would run from Union Station to the vicinity of the University of Missouri-Kansas City at approximately 51st and Main Street.

The project team recently held two public meetings in order to gather community input on stop locations and track alignment. A final recommendation from the project team about stop locations and track alignment, along with projected cost, will be available to the public this summer.

Be prepared: Japanese beetles are back in KC

Japanese beetles have returned to the Kansas City area. Here are tips on how to identify and get rid of the bugs.

Japanese beetles, those colorful, small bugs that carry a big threat, are making their seasonal return to Kansas City this month.

The Downtown Council has gathered some basic information about Japanese beetles – and ways to get rid of them – as a service to property owners and members. This information was drawn from sources including Kansas City Parks & Recreation, K-State Research and Extension and the Old Farmers Almanac.

Japanese beetles can be troublesome on two fronts. The adults feed on a wide variety of plant materials including: rose, grape, crabapple, linden and birch. The grub can be a pest of the lawn, feeding on the roots, according to K-State Research and Extension.

The beetles do not discriminate on what types of plants they feed on. Japanese beetles are ½ inch in length with metallic blue-green heads, copper backs, tan wings, and small white hairs lining each side of the abdomen. Japanese beetles usually feed in small groups. They lay eggs in the soil during June, which develop into tiny white grubs with brown heads and six legs that are up to ¾ inch in length. These grubs will remain under wraps for about 10 months, overwintering and growing in the soil, according to the Old Farmers Almanac.

They emerge from the soil as adult beetles and begin feeding in June. Reports are already surfacing around Kansas City that the beetles have begun their return here. They usually attack plants in groups, which is why damage is so severe.

Although the lifecycle of the adult Japanese beetle is barely 40 days, it can cover a lot of ground. Even if you succeed in controlling your Japanese beetle population, your neighbor’s Japanese beetles might come on over.

Damage from the adults is defoliation of the host plant. The good news is, many well established plants will be able to tolerate minor feeding with no loss in vigor. The feeding tends to be more in mid to late summer, which means the plant has had more time to store food reserves for next year, according to K-State Research and Extension.

They can devour most of the foliage on favored plants like roses. Look for leaves that are “skeletonized” (only have veins remaining). This is a tell-tale sign of Japanese Beetles, reports the Old Farmers Almanac.

Grubs damage grass when overwintering in the soil, as they eat the roots of lawn grasses and garden plants.

japanese-beetle-damage.jpg
Photo Credit: The Ohio State University. Japanese beetles cause leaves to appear skeletonized.

HOW TO GET RID OF JAPANESE BEETLES

Options for controlling Japanese beetles range from doing nothing to hand removal or chemical sprays.

The Old Farmers Almanac points to several of options, including row covers, hand picking, neem oil, use of a dropcloth, insecticides, traps (see next three paragraphs), fruit cocktail and geraniums.

Japanese beetle traps can be helpful in controlling large numbers of beetles, however they also might attract beetles from beyond your yard. Unfortunately, the traps do not effectively suppress adults and might even result in a higher localized population. If you want to try traps, be sure to place traps far away from plants so that the beetles do not land on your favored plants on their way to the traps.

According to Kansas City Parks & Recreation, several kinds of traps are available that use a floral scent and/or sex attractant to lure beetles into a net, jar or bag where the beetles can be contained until disposed of. In heavily-infested areas, traps may catch hundreds or thousands of beetles in the course of the summer.

Unfortunately, this is a small percentage of the beetles in the area and makes no lasting impact on the beetle population or on the plant damage experienced. The use of traps is not recommended. Research conducted in Kentucky and elsewhere found the traps do not control moderate to heavy infestations. The traps may attract more beetles than they catch and actually add more beetles to the yard than would occur otherwise. 

 japanese-beetle-identification-control.jpg
Photo Credit: Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota. Sometimes the easiest way to get rid of Japanese beetles is to pick them off the plants before they do too much damage.

HOW TO PREVENT JAPANESE BEETLES

Unfortunately, there is no magic potion to get rid of this pest. For general preventive maintenance, experts recommend keeping your landscape healthy. Remove diseased and poorly nourished trees as well as any prematurely ripening or diseased fruits, which can attract Japanese beetles.

For more information, check the sources cited in this post, as well as professional lawn / tree care service providers in the Kansas City area.

 

Spring Urban Homes Tour reflects booming times in Downtown

The self-guided Spring Urban Homes Tour is back in Downtown Kansas City this Saturday!

Organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association, the free tour of 11 residential properties will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Saturday. The tour is in response to the high demand for living in Downtown KC and will feature multiple properties along and around the KC Streetcar line.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen an incredible influx of new residents,” said the DNA President, Jared Campbell, “With the development boom along the Streetcar line, Downtown Kansas City has become the place to live, work and play.”

The Spring Urban Homes Tour is one of two free Downtown housing tours that occur annually. The other is a holiday-inspired Urban Homes Tour presented each December, as part of the Downtown Dazzle holiday activities.

Spring Urban Homes Tour guests will enjoy viewing urban living spaces and luxury amenities at each of the 11 participating properties, as well as experience tastes from local restaurants, special offers, seasonal cocktails, raffles and more. The self-guided tour is free and open to the public. Guests are encouraged to ride the KC Streetcar to connect them to the participating properties on the tour.

“It has been thrilling to see the buzz surrounding Downtown KC living and the lifestyle that it has to offer,” said Power & Light Apartments Property Manager, Dawn Cole. “Many Downtown residents enjoy being within walking distance to upscale dining, entertainment, grocery stores, the City Market and the Crossroads Art District. Additionally, their apartment communities offer onsite amenities allowing them to enjoy fitness centers, media rooms, spas, social gatherings and outdoor spaces without ever leaving home.”

Each guest can begin the tour at any of the participating properties and will receive a map with additional details.

Participating properties include Power & Light Apartments, One Light Luxury Apartments, Two Light Luxury Apartments, Fountains Lofts, Board of Trade Lofts, Stuart Hall Lofts,
Summit on Quality Hill, Commerce Tower, 531 Grand, Centropolis, and Union Berkley Riverfront.

All Urban Homes Tour participants are encouraged to visit Cleaver & Cork for a happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Visit www.DNAKCMO.org or email info@dnakcmo.org for more information.

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About the Downtown Neighborhood Association. The DNA is focused on building relationships among neighbors through its meetings and events. Members can meet other professionals and learn about businesses in the Downtown area so that you can work together to strengthen the economic fiber of our neighborhood. Networking with one another and improving social relations builds a stronger community. The Downtown Council works closely with the DNA on numerous issues and events, including the upcoming homes tour.

Crossroads H.S. students invited to U.N. to share world-changing ideas

These Crossroads Academy high school freshmen have been invited to attend the 2018 Global Solutions Lab and present their world-changing ideas at the United Nations in New York. (Photo courtesy of The Kansas City Star.)

If Abigail Hoyt could change the world, she’d start by ending generations of poverty, or at least talking about the possibility with people who, like her, want to solve global problems.

“People who are born into poor families are likely to remain poor, even when they work hard,” said Abigail, a freshman at Crossroads Academy in Downtown Kansas City. “I would like to break that down.”

The Kansas City Star reported on the Abigail and fellow students last week. The story is republished, in part, here.

A daunting endeavor for a high school student. But, nevertheless, Abigail is going to get a chance to be heard next month when she and about a dozen of her schoolmates meet with national and international experts, business people and leaders of wealthy foundations, who have the clout and the finances to examine world-changing possibilities.

The students from her public charter school in Downtown have been invited to join college students and young professionals from around the world at the Global Solutions Lab, where they will spend a week sharing ideas and helping to come up with ways to solve some of the world’s most critical problems.

At the end of the week, they will present their ideas to United Nations officials in New York City.

Part of the trip is being paid for by the lab, but students still have to come up with another $20,000, which they are hoping to raise through a Gofundme account. So far they’ve pulled in about $2,500.

“This is not going to be an academic exercise,” said Medard Gabel, director of the Global Solutions Lab, which was started 16 years ago in New York City. He said the whole point is “to challenge young people and to lead to a solution.” A solution that Gabel said he expects to see parlayed into a business or taken up by one of the invited foundations “and not set on a shelf.”

He also expects the Crossroads students to be as involved in deciding what problems to tackle and coming up with solutions as the adults invited to this year’s lab.

Gabel asked the Crossroads students to participate after they joined an online talk he gave earlier in the year, during which he asked whether it’s possible for everyone on the planet to have all basic human needs — food, clean water, housing, health care — met. The students jumped in with what Gabel said were meaty questions.

“They seemed like a bright bunch of young people,” Gabel said. “We are interested in their values.” So he offered them partial scholarships to be part of this year’s lab, from June 17 to June 25 at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, where they will stay in campus dorms.

Click here to read the complete story in The Star.

KCP&L ‘connects’ with hands-on energy solutions center

KCP&L opened a first-of-its-kind energy solutions center this week at 1710 Paseo.

KCP&L opened its first energy solutions center, KCP&L Connect, early this week in Downtown Kansas City.

Designed with the customer experience in mind, KCP&L Connect is part of the Company’s long-term strategy to advance customer offerings and ease access to its energy-related products and services.

“We continually strive to be a customer-focused energy solutions provider and stay current with changing customer preferences and behaviors. Our goal with KCP&L Connect is to offer a more personalized, face-to-face customer experience, whether that is account support or assistance deciding which energy efficiency product is right for them,” said Terry Bassham, KCP&L’s president and CEO. “

The specially-designed space will allow customers to choose the kind of account support they need from self-service payment kiosks to face-to-face assistance.

In addition, visitors can tour the Smart Energy Home Experience for a first-hand look at the most innovative energy savings ideas, products and technologies for their homes or businesses. The space will also host workshops and hands-on demonstrations of KCP&L’s energy programs and rebates, teaching customers how they can save on their energy bill.

“As energy-efficiency products and programs continue to evolve, we want customers to look to KCP&L as their go-to energy solutions center. That’s what KCP&L Connect will be,” said Chuck Caisley, KCP&L’s vice president of marketing and public affairs. “We look forward to advancing this concept and potentially adding additional locations in the future.”

In addition to account support and energy-related products, KCP&L Connect will contain:

  • A children’s area where kids can learn how energy is made
  • Smart transportation information, including electric vehicle and home charging options
  • A classroom and community conference space
  • An energy-efficient living room and kitchen with smart energy options

“Now with our new classroom and children’s area, we will be able to enhance our in-school discussions with year-round demonstrations about the future of sustainability and energy generation inside KCP&L Connect,” Caisley said.

Providing additional support and bringing ‘KCP&L Connect’ to customers in outlying areas are two mobile units that have been rolling since 2015, providing information on products, services and the future of energy. These vehicles are used for face-to-face support and communication with customers in neighborhoods, schools, and community events, as well as for emergency support during outages or other emergencies.

KCP&L Connect is located at 1710 Paseo Blvd. The energy solutions center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with extended hours of 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.