Voters + Streetcar Authority fuel streetcar expansion plans

The KC Streetcar is not only a hot topic with riders along its Downtown route seven days a week, but also at the ballot box in Kansas City, Missouri, these days – including a special election this week.

VOTE #1 – Streetcar taxing district

Voters approved the creation of a new taxing district that could eventually lead to expansion of the Downtown starter system south 51st and Brookside and the UMKC Volker campus. The Kansas City Election Board certified the election results on Friday, which confirmed a vote of 2,458 in favor of and 1,048 again the formation of an expanded streetcar district.

Eligible voters included only those who live within the boundaries of the new taxing district (roughly from the Missouri River south to 53rd Street and from State Line east to Campbell Street). Even though 30,000 people were eligible to vote, only 3,642 cast their notarized ballots, according to The Kansas City Star on Aug. 5.

“This was critical, because if this didn’t pass, the whole thing was stopped in its tracks,” said David Johnson, a member of the KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA) board and chair of the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance.

This election marked the first of three steps necessary to eventually build the expanded rail system some 3.75 miles from Union Station to 51st and Brookside.

“This vote establishes the transportation development district TDD boundaries to help pay for streetcar expansion,” according to Star reporter Lynn Horsley. “Two more elections are required: to elect a streetcar district board and to approve the specific local sales and property taxes needed to help fund the expansion, which is estimated to cost about $227 million.”


Election results prompts action by Streetcar Authority

Spurred by the resounding vote to form a TDD to fund a southern streetcar line to UMKC, the Streetcar Authority and their partners are wasting no time jump-starting the necessary engineering and planning work to make the project a reality.

On Monday, the KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA), in coordination with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and the City of Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO) issued notice to proceed to begin planning work on the Streetcar Southern Extension project. A team led by HDR Engineering will provide the planning and engineering services with support from Burns & McDonnell, HNTB, Trekk Design Group, Hg Consult, Parson + Associates, VSM Engineering and Architectural & Historical Research.

This phase of planning, estimated at approximately $1 million, is jointly funded by the KCSA and KCATA. The planning and engineering work is estimated to take nine months.

“We are thrilled to be working hand-in-hand with our partners with the KCATA and KCMO, to detail specific plans for a southern streetcar extension and related bus improvements connecting Downtown to University of Missouri, Kansas City’s campus,” said Tom Gerend, executive director, KCSA on Monday. “This effort is a critical step towards advancing the region’s transit vision and completing the due diligence that will be required to make this vision a reality.”

As for the voters, the next vote is set for Oct. 10, when voters within the TDD boundaries will select directors. Then, a mail-in election to approve sales taxes and property tax assessments for the TDD is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 3.

If the project clears all the elections, the streetcar could begin transporting passengers in 2022, at the earliest.

To learn more about the taxing district and the mail-in election, see The Star and The Kansas City Business Journal and visit the KC Streetcar website.

VOTE # 2 – Special Election on Tuesday (Aug. 8)

KCMO voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to weigh in on three separate questions, which sparked this special election through initiative petitions. Two of the questions are related to the streetcar system extension.

Click here to see a sample ballot for the special election.

According to the Kansas City Business Journal:

  • “Question 1 would require a citywide vote on matters related to a streetcar expansion. Johnson said the measure effectively would negate the City Council’s involvement in the process.
  • “Question 2 is a proposal from transit activist Clay Chastain to build out a citywide transit network. The wording includes a caveat for the city to build what it can afford.”

The KCRTA announced on Aug. 2 its support of Question 2, along with its opposition to Question 1.

The KCTA believes the Chastain proposal “includes a scope of work that can be scaled to available resources, assuming federal funds are made available, through a ‘build what you can’ caveat that would allow progress to continue in reasonable phases.”

“The transit appliance sees Chastain’s plan as a good antidote to Question 1…,” according to The Star on Aug. 3. ”

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8






10,000 free ice cream scoops to benefit local Salvation Army

Now, here’s a sweet opportunity that’s coming to Downtown KC on Tuesday, Aug. 8.

Downtown workers, residents, visitors and, well, everyone you know can score a free scoop of Hiland Moose Tracks Ice Cream between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Power & Light District (Walnut entrance to the Live Block!)

There are no strings attached. Just show up, wait your turn, and you will be served a free scoop of ice cream on an August day.

And, here’s where this free offer gets even better. If we (all of us) turn out to consume 10,000 scoops in those four hours, then Denali Flavors, developers of the legendary Moose Tracks Ice Cream, will donate $10,000 to The Salvation Army of Kansas City.
Now, there is just one thing you can do – SPREAD THE WORD – to help ensure that Hiland serves all 10,000 scoops, so The Salvation Army captures the entire $10,000 contribution from Denali.
Share this message via email and your social media channels to your friends, co-workers, visitors and total strangers, so they will get their free scoops on Tuesday!

Here’s the skinny on the 10,000 Scoops Challenge:


Denali Flavors, developers of the legendary Moose Tracks Ice Cream, is inviting members of the Kansas City community to join the 10,000 Scoops Challenge. For eight years, Denali has taken the challenge on the road, and this year, it’s Kansas City’s turn to eat for a cause.

Some 10,000 scoops of Hiland Moose Tracks Ice Cream will be served as part of the challenge – for each scoop served, Moose Tracks will donate $1 per scoop to The Salvation Army of Kansas City on Hiland Dairy’s behalf in an effort to raise $10,000 for local programs.

During the event ice cream lovers can follow Moose Tracks on Twitter @Moose_Tracks.  Visit 10,000 Scoops Challenge event page for more information!


  • Power & Light District 1333 Walnut St. (inside the Walnut entrance to the Live Block!)


  • 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8


  • You are invited, and you can bring friends, family, work colleagues; one scoop person limit; 10,000 scoop maximum.


  • Visit 10,000 Scoops Challenge event page for more information!



LaunchKC begins judging hundreds of applications

LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, completed a successful application campaign in July – topping its goal for number of applications to the 2017 competition.

About 400 applicants from 19 states and five nations were submitted by entrepreneurs who will be competing for $500,000 in LaunchKC grants that will be awarded at the Techweek Kansas City conference in September.

“LaunchKC has attracted about 1,500 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our first three years of competition,” said Drew Solomon, who chairs the competition for LaunchKC. “This year’s field is a tough one – with great talent, vision and drive clearly visible in their applications and pitch videos.”

Following an extensive judging process that begins this week, the field will be pared down by late August to 20 finalists who will compete for nine grants – including a $100,000 grand prize and eight $50,000 grants – on Friday, Sept. 15 at the Techweek KC conference.

“LaunchKC has attracted about 1,500 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our first three years of competition,” said Drew Solomon, who chairs the competition for LaunchKC. “This year’s field is a tough one – with great talent, vision and drive clearly visible in their applications and pitch videos.”

LaunchKC is a nonprofit initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

LaunchKC is fueled by the visionary support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners, including:

  • Strategic: Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri
  • Visionary: Kansas City Power & Light District, William T. Kemper Foundation, UMB Bank
  • Contributing: Burns & McDonnell, Google Fiber, KCP&L, Lead Bank, Husch Blackwell, Missouri Department of Economic Development, Polsinelli, Techweek
  • Emerging: J.E. Dunn Construction, Lathrop & Gage
  • Friends: Allied Global, ITEN, Marriott Downtown Kansas City
  • Supporters: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center, Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships, Think Big Partners, UMKC Bloch School of Business




Downtown Office Summit reflects strength, optimism

View of Downtown Kansas City from the rooftop of the Corrigan Station, which served as home to the Downtown Office Summit on Wednesday.

The Downtown Council stage its first Downtown Office Summit on Wednesday at Corrigan Station. The event was a sell-out not only with Downtown business and civic leaders, but also with developers and potential office tenants who are closely watching and keenly interested in this next chapter of Downtown’s revitalization.

The following report was filed last night by Kevin Collison, publisher and writer of CitySceneKC, a new hyperlocal digital newspaper serving Downtown Kansas City.

Downtown Kansas City is on the cusp of new office construction to meet the needs of employers who want to recruit and retain younger workers seeking the diversity and energy of an urban environment, according to writer Kevin Collison in today’s edition of

That was one of the takeaways at the Downtown Council of Kansas City‘s first ever office summit Wednesday, an event attended by 170 people in the newly redeveloped Corrigan Station office project.

It’s goal was to explore how Downtown can attract more private employers.

“Since our move, we’ve acquired a lot more talent,” said Meg Stapleton of Auto Alert, a software firm that recently relocated its headquarters from California and is occupying 45,000 square feet in a building at 114 W. 11th St.

“We’re attracting the younger, new talent that wants an urban mix.”

The summit was kicked off by Mayor Sly James, who said major projects including the renovation of Union Station, the Sprint Center, Power & Light District and Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, plus events like First Fridays set the stage for a more vibrant downtown.

“The key to any city’s success is attracting businesses and companies in the future who need talent that wants to take advantage of the downtown lifestyle,” James said. “If we corner the market on talent, the businesses will follow.”

To read Collison’s complete story, go to


LaunchKC application countdown reaches 2 (days)

The magic number number is down two!

Tech entrepreneurs have only three days left before applications are due for the LaunchKC grants competition on Friday. And, there is MUCH at stake for tech startups.

Not only will LaunchKC give out $500,000 in grants – including one $100,000 grand prize – to nine entrepreneurs, but also the final round of competition will unfold live at Techweek Kansas City  on Friday, Sept. 15.

LaunchKC is a platform for attracting tech entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses to establish/grow emerging enterprises in Kansas City. It is seeking the best and brightest entrepreneurs to apply and compete for $500,000 in non-dilutive grants.

In its first two years, LaunchKC has awarded $1 million via $50,000 grants to 20 startups from six states and three nations. This year will mark the first time that LaunchKC has featured one $100,000 grand prize.

The application window for the third annual LaunchKC competition is open until 11:59 p.m. Friday. To apply, go to the online application at

“Let LaunchKC be the fuel for your entrepreneurial fire,” said Mike Hurd, spokesman for LaunchKC. “A $50,000 grant – let alone a $100,000 grand prize – would serve as a powerful liftoff for a startup business.”

Countdown: 7 reasons & 7 days left to apply for LaunchKC

LaunchKC has awarded $1 million in grants to 20 tech entrepreneurs, including this group from 2016, over the last two years. Applications for the third annual grants competition are due next Friday, July 7.

Tech entrepreneurs have only seven more days to apply for a share of the $500,000 funding pool offered by LaunchKC, the global grants competition.

LaunchKC is in its third year of offering $500,000 in non-dilutive grants to tech startups, following a rigorous competition that culminates at the Techweek Kansas City conference in September.

“The LaunchKC grants application is available online now through midnight on Friday, July 7,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “This is your opportunity to compete for a share of the grant pool.”

LaunchKC has awarded $1 million in grants over the last two years to 20 entrepreneurs from six states and three nations.

Entrepreneurs can apply for a LaunchKC grant online via the website. And, with only seven days left before the application window closes, Hurd offered seven reasons why a budding business leader should apply now:

  1. You could score a $100,000 grant! LaunchKC will award eight $50,000 grants, plus – for the first time – one $100,000 grand prize.
  2. Free office space in Downtown for one year. Each grant recipient will score free working space in the heart of the Crossroads – home of KC’s innovation district
  3. Professional coaching from mentors with expertise in your niche. Each grant recipient will be paired with an industry-specific mentor team
  4. Free educational programming for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. Each recipient will get the chance to learn the basics of business development from those who have been there.
  5. Pitching in the big show! Following weeks of assessment, LaunchKC judges will select 20 applicants to advance to the Techweek Kansas City conference, where they will make their pitches before a live judging panel and audience on Sept. 15.
  6. Everything starts with a spark. LaunchKC has invested $1 million in grants for 20 tech entrepreneurs over the last two years. Consider LaunchKC as the fuel to your flame. Light up!
  7. You can’t win if you don’t play, err, enter. Applications for the 2017 LaunchKC competition will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, July 7. Click here to  review the online application form.

LaunchKC is a non-profit initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the Economic Development Corp., and is funded by generous and visionary sponsors, including:

  • Strategic – Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Techweek;
  • Visionary – Kansas City Power & Light District, UMB Bank;
  • Contributing – Burns & McDonnell, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, KCP&L, Lead Bank, Missouri Department of Economic Development;
  • Emerging – Polsinelli, J.E. Dunn Construction, Lathrop & Gage, Marriott Downtown Kansas City;
  • Supporting – Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center; Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships; Think Big Partners; UMKC  Bloch School of Business.

More? Contact Mike Hurd, marketing officer, or 816/447-2136.


Time is running out to register for Downtown Office Summit

View of Downtown Kansas City from the rooftop of the Corrigan Building, 19th & Main, home of the Downtown Office Summit meeting on July 12.

The Downtown Council of Kansas City
invites you to attend the
Downtown Kansas City Office Summit
two weeks from today @ 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 12,
Corrigan Building, 1828 Walnut
Cocktail reception to follow at 5:30 p.m. on the Corrigan rooftop (weather permitting)

Mayor Sly James

 The Honorable Sylvester James, Mayor of the City of Kansas City,
will deliver opening remarks: 

The City’s perspective on the future of office development in Downtown.
What are the City’s plans (or vision) to facilitate future growth?  

 Market Overview
E. Gibson Kerr, Vice President, Cushman & Wakefield
Michael Klamm, Managing Director, CBRE
Recent Market Activity
What are the opportunities and obstacles? 
What are tenants looking for in today’s market?

Jon Copaken, Principal, Copaken Brooks
Dave Harrison, President, VanTrust Real Estate
Bryan Johnson, CEO, Colliers International, Kansas City
Troy Schulte, City Manager, City of Kansas City, Missouri
Downtown Office Manager
Downtown Office Tenant 

Moderator: Steve Vockrodt, The Kansas City Star

 Limited seating available. Registration closes, July 7th

For more information, contact Julie Shippy,

Thank you to our sponsors:

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum receives $1 million from MLB & Players

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Downtown KC received a $1 million donation from the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball. The announcement was made at the museum this week. Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred (from left), MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark and Bob Kendrick (right), president of NLBM, helped unveil the symbolic check. Photo courtesy of The Star.


The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Downtown Kansas City received a substantial gift this week from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and players association executive director Tony Clark were at the museum in the historic 18th & Vine jazz district on Wednesday to announce a $1 million donation to the NLBM. Clark proposed the idea to Manfred of creating a partnership with the museum about a year ago, according to The Kansas City Star and reporter Josh Tolentino:

“Whenever you try to rebuild something like rebuild African-American participation in our game, you need a great foundation,” Manfred said. “The foundation of our effort with respect to African-American players had to be an effort to make young players understand the Negro Leagues, understand the significance of the Negro Leagues to African-American history and more broadly, to American history.”

The $1 million donation (split evenly between the MLB and MLBPA) matches a gift from Julia Irene Kauffman as the biggest in the history of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

“Both entities have been supportive the museum over periods of time,” NLBM president Bob Kendrick said. “But this is the first time that we’ve sat down and looked at a cooperative kind of collaborative relationship.

“As much as we’re excited by the amount of the check, I’m more excited that the commissioner was here and that Tony was here, because I think this help gets the message out this is not just a charitable contribution — this is a partnership.” Click here to read the complete story in The Star.

Grand opening ceremony welcomes Atlas to Downtown

City Manager Troy Schulte, right, was among the first to tour the Atlas residential building during a grand opening ceremony last week. The property features 16 unique living units in the Crossroads.Downtown Council members and stakeholders gathered last week to celebrate the grand opening of Atlas, the latest residential property in Downtown KC, and to welcome prospective tenants and guests.

Atlas Lofts, 1509 Walnut, is a fully restored boutique property artfully blending old world charm and modern amenities. It features 16 superbly appointed, one-of-a-kind units. Nestled on the northern edge of the creative hub of the Crossroads Arts District, Atlas is one block away from the KC Streetcar, a neighbor to Sprint Center, and in easy walking distance to the heart of Downtown.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the official opening of Atlas, the latest residential property in Downtown. Participants included principals Jason Swords, Sunflower Development; Jeff Krum. Boulevard Brewing; Jay Tomlinson; Helix Architecture + Design; City Manager Troy Schulte, Crossroads champion Suzie Aron; and Councilwoman Jolie Justus.

More than 60 guests turned out for the Downtown Council’s grand opening ceremonies that included remarks from Jeff Crum, CEO of Boulevard Brewing Co. and a principal in the Atlas project, along with City Manager Troy Schulte, and City Councilwoman Jolie Justus.

The Downtown Council played host to a grand opening celebration of the restored Atlas building at 1509 Walnut last week.

Designed by a noted Kansas City architect in Romanesque Revival style, Atlas was constructed in 1902. It first housed the Grand Avenue Storage Company, then Atlas Storage and Transfer, followed by the Berlau Paper Company, before falling into a period of neglect and decline.

Today, the magnificent structure—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—has finally found its true calling. Every unit in Atlas is unique, each possessing its own exclusive features and a variety of today’s hottest amenities.

A partnership by principals from Sunflower Development, Helix Architecture+Design and Boulevard Brewing came together in 2015 to acquire the property and charted a bold new course, affecting a complete restoration in keeping with the rigorous standards established by the Department of the Interior.

For more information about living and leasing at Atlas, visit atlas-kc.comgo to or call 816-533-5609.

City Council clears path for Downtown convention hotel

The Downtown KC convention hotel has moved one critical steps closer to reality.

The City Council approved an ordinance last week that convention hotel planners say is the last legislative approval needed to aim for a groundbreaking by early October, according to The Kansas City Star on June 8. Council members voted 11-2 to pass the measure that includes an accelerated effective date to proceed on what has been presented as a $310 million hotel.

According to The Star, the proposed 800-room tower — for the area bounded by Truman Road on the north, Baltimore Avenue on the east, 16th Street on the south, and Wyandotte Avenue on the west — was publicly announced in May 2015 but had been discussed since 1999.

The ordinance sets the size of a Community Improvement District according to those boundaries, approves the zoning and development plan for the site, and permits an elevated walkway across Wyandotte.

Councilwomen Heather Hall and Teresa Loar voted no on the grounds they hadn’t seen enough financial information about the project and didn’t want to risk taxpayer funds.

 Mayor Sly James countered that there was no risk to the city, there is no commitment from the general fund, the city is not guaranteeing the bonds, and the city will not operate the hotel or take a possible loss on it.
The city is donating land for the project and is allowing hotel and guest taxes paid within the hotel district to make up part of the financing package.

The project, backed by the mayor, City Manager Troy Schulte, most of the council, and a development team headed by attorney Michael Burke, was delayed partly by a petition drive and lawsuit filed by group opposed to financial participation by the city.

Burke said investors are lined up and that JE Dunn, general contractor for the hotel, has delivered a preliminary guaranteed maximum price, a figure necessary to take bond sales to market.

The development team said bond counsel will be ready within a few weeks to sell more than $100 million in bonds to help finance the project.

To read the complete story, visit


Crossroads to launch Downtown high school at Park U. urban campus

Crossroads Charter Schools will open a Downtown High School at a temporary location on the Park University Downtown campus beginning in fall 2018. (Courtesy of The Star.)

The dream of a Downtown Kansas City high school is about to become a reality.

Earlier this year, Crossroads Charter Schools, a network of three schools in the heart of Downtown Kansas City, Mo., revealed the launch of Crossroads High School. Today, Park University and Crossroads announced a partnership for Crossroads High School to utilize the University’s Downtown Campus Center as its temporary home through July 2019.

This fall, the first class of 30 Crossroads High School freshmen, along with five faculty and staff, will occupy three of the University’s classrooms during the day on the third floor of the Commerce Tower redevelopment at 911 Main Street. Crossroads anticipates 70 more students will be added for the 2018-19 academic year while a permanent high school building is prepared to open in fall 2019. Also, as part of the partnership, Crossroads students will have opportunities to visit the University’s flagship campus in Parkville, Mo., to gain additional exposure to college life.

Crossroads will host an open house for its students and parents on Friday, June 9, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Park’s Downtown Campus, to provide a sneak peek of the opportunities they will have to engage in the downtown community and its accessibility to the city’s streetcar line, which has a stop outside the building.

“We are excited that Crossroads students will expand their studies in this newly renovated, high-tech, university setting,” said Dean Johnson, executive director of Crossroads Charter Schools.

Crossroads opened its first elementary school in 2013 in an office building in Downtown Kansas City and by 2017 enrolled roughly 570 students in kindergarten through eighth grade in two Downtown locations.

“Park University is excited to work with Crossroads Charter Schools as it expands to provide education to high school age students,” said Kena Wolf, associate vice president for campus center operations at Park. “These students give the University a unique opportunity to partner in creative and innovative ways, and support our mutual desire to bring convenient education opportunities to the downtown community, which Park has provided since 1974.”

Kirsten Brown, a current teacher at Crossroads, will be the founding principal of Crossroads High School. For more information about Crossroads Charter Schools, visit

To read more about the Crossroads High School announcement, visit The Kansas City Star at and The Kansas City Business Journal at

Founded in 1875 in Parkville, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City, Park University is a nonprofit, private institution that is a national leader in higher education. In 2000, Park achieved university status and now serves 17,000 students annually at 40 campus centers in 21 states and online, including campus centers in Parkville, Independence and Downtown Kansas City, Mo.; Austin and El Paso, Texas; Barstow and Victorville, Calif.; and 33 military installations across the country.

Crossroads Charter Schools, which opened in Downtown Kansas City, Mo., in 2012, prepares and inspires students to build a better tomorrow by providing an academically rigorous K-12 education in a creative, collaborative, community-focused environment. Crossroads Academy – Central Street, is a K-8 school at 10th and Central, and Crossroads Academy – Quality Hill, is a K-3 school at 11th and Washington.


Safety Escort Service available daily from CID Ambassadors

CID Ambassadors provide free Safety Escort services seven days a week to Downtown workers, residents or visitors.Community Improvement District (CID) Ambassadors are dedicated to providing a strong and comforting presence in the Central Business District and River Market seven days a week.

“The ‘bumble bees’ patrol the Central Library, Ride KC and KC Streetcar stops, the City Market, 18th & Vine, key intersections, streets, parking lots and special events welcoming more than 80,000 workers, 24,000 residents and 25 million visitors every year,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs.

And, they provide personal, safety escort service upon request.

Safety Ambassadors provide assistance through our Safety Escort service by walking residents, employees and visitors in the Downtown area to and from their car and workplace or residence. The CIDs provide this service between the hours of 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

“While the Downtown area is statistically safer in the terms of crimes against individuals than other places in the City, the CID Safety Ambassadors are committed to helping anyone feel more comfortable walking the sidewalks at any time during the day,” Rowlands said.

“Besides, the Ambassadors have outstanding personalities and the conversations are sure to be polite, positive and interesting.”

The CIDs have logged nearly 8,000 Safety Escorts since the Downtown CID was launched in 2003, including nearly 1,600 last year alone.

To request this free public service, call the CID dispatch at 816-421-5243 during office hours, or 816-820-3475 during evenings or early mornings.