2017 Urban Heroes to be honored at special event

The 2016 Urban Heroes will welcome the 2017 award winners at a special reception on Jan. 24. The 2016 honorees included, from left, Deb Churchill, The City Market; Andrew Bracker, City of Kansas City; Julie Nelson Meers, mobank; Vince Bryant, 3D Development; and Matt Staub, KC Streetcar advocate.

The Downtown Council – in preparation for its Annual Luncheon next month – will honor four community champions with Urban Hero status during a very special event next month.

Make plans to join us at the Urban Hero Reception from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24 at Suitable Technologies Inc., 1200 Main St., Suite 4200. Our Urban Heroes are passionate about making Downtown Kansas City a more vibrant place to live, work and play. Light hor d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided.

2017 Urban Hero Honorees:

Tickets are $20 each, and you may purchase tickets at https://2018urbanhero.eventbrite.com. DTC Annual Luncheon sponsors may receive complimentary tickets as part of their sponsorship package.  Contact Ashley Broockerd to make your reservation, abroockerd@evenergy.com.

In addition, don’t forget to join us at the Annual Luncheon at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 26. Reserve your sponsorship and or purchase tickets at www.downtownkc.org/annual-luncheon/registration/.


Luncheon to focus on Downtown as a Smart City

Downtown Kansas City and its evolving place in the global Smart City stratosphere will be the focus of the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 26, in the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center.

An estimated 1,000 DTC members and stakeholders, will gather for the 2018 Annual Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event serves as a celebration of the accomplishments and trajectory of Downtown Kansas City of the past year and decade. Click here to reserve your table or tickets.

TJ Costello, Cisco, will serve as the keynote speaker.

Smart City is the theme of the 2018 Downtown Council Annual LuncheonSmart Cities are about people… and tools… and data… and analysis… and leveraging them in order to improve the citizen experience and to predict future needs.

Kansas City’s Smart City Initiative began when the City of Kansas City leveraged a complex capital project – the introduction of the KC Streetcar – and added advanced technological capabilities. That transformed simple transportation into a multi-functional data collection and analysis platform, which is revolutionizing the way it manages operations.

The KC Smart City infrastructure features an extensive, coordinated suite of connective Wi-Fi technology and analytical platforms along the 51-block streetcar corridor on Main Street to improve delivery of city services.

Currently, Downtown’s 51 square blocks are “smart.” The City is working to expand these capabilities to all 325 square miles of Kansas City, Missouri. This is one of the most connected cities in the country with more than 5.5 million miles of fiber. KC is also a leader in digital inclusion, increasing the entire community’s computer literacy. The City’s digital capacity is also supporting numerous high-tech start-up companies.

The objective of the Smart Cities initiative is to enable Kansas City to be the smartest city in North America within five years and remain among the thought leaders for Smart City efforts around the world.

Keynote speaker, T.J. Costello, Director of Smart Cities and IoT – Americas at Cisco, will share how Downtown KC might just be the smartest place in the country, which creates a crystal clear competitive advantage for Kansas City regionally, nationally and globally.

Costello is responsible for Cisco’s Smart Cities go-to-market strategy for the Americas. His team focuses on building economic, social and environmental sustainability for cities through the use of technology.

2017 Downtown Council Annual Luncheon

Luncheon Highlights:

Our honorary co-chairs are Steve McDowell, Design Director, BNIM Architects and Irv Hockaday, retired President and CEO, Hallmark Cards Inc., past President and CEO, Kansas City Southern. Planning chairs are Nate Orr, Partner, Spencer Fane and Cathy Smith, Vice President of Corporate Planning, Faultless Starch/Bon Ami.

We hope you will join us at the luncheon. Click here to reserve your table or individual tickets. Contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org, or Ashley Broockerd, abroockerd@evenergy.com, for more information.

Downtown convention hotel to break ground next month

The Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel, KCMO’s first new convention hotel in over three decades, is expected to break ground in January 2018.

The long-anticipated convention center hotel in Downtown KC is set to open in March 2020, placing a modern, 23-story, 800-room luxury structure across from Bartle Hall.

Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel is due to break ground in January 2018. The project site is bounded by Truman Road on the north, Baltimore Avenue on the east, 16th Street on the south, and Wyandotte Street on the west and is located in within the Truman & Wyandotte Urban Renewal Area.

The $322 venture will feature an upscale restaurant, bar and lounge areas as well as associated retail. There also will be a two-story meeting space above three levels of parking, with an elevated walkway over Wyandotte Street that connects the hotel with the Bartle Hall Convention Center. The City of Kansas City, Missouri, is committed to this investment since it is expected to significantly increase economic development, in turn benefiting the entire city.

The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) and the Tax Increment Financing Commission (TIFC) recently granted Loews final approval for tax breaks for the project, which is being financed by a $110 million construction loan from Wells Fargo Bank, $79 million in revenue from bonds to be sold by the LCRA and the TIFC, and a $32 million bank loan secured by catering revenue. Private investors will contribute $59.6 million.

The City has committed $35 million in cash, which will be paid from the existing Convention & Tourism sales tax. The City also is contributing $7 million, which is the value of the land owned by City at the hotel site. The City has kept its promise to not commit or risk any General Fund revenues for this project.

The City’s website has been updated with additional information and documentation for those who want more details on the project.

Convention hotel wins key approvals; groundbreaking set

The bar at the Loews Convention Hotel will offer a dramatic skyline view. (Image courtesy Loews)

After seven years of discussion and planning, construction of a 24-story, 800-room Downtown convention hotel is expected to begin Jan. 2 following approvals of key documents Wednesday, according to today’s CitySceneKC.com.

A thick stack of financing and property transfer documents necessary for the $322.7 million Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel project were approved unanimously by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) after three hours of deliberations.

“In my 20 years on the board, this is easily the most complicated project we’ve ever embraced,” said LCRA Chairman Steve Hamilton.

The new Loews will be the first major hotel built in Downtown Kansas City since the Vista International, now the Marriott, opened in 1985, and is expected by Loews officials to make the city far more competitive in the convention market. It’s expected to be completed in March 2020.

Alexander Tisch, executive vice president of the New York-based Loews, said the project should allow Kansas City to compete for up to 200 more events than it could previously by offering the critical mass of downtown hotel rooms needed for major conventions.

“You have a vibrant downtown and first class convention center,” Tisch told the LCRA board, “but you need a four-star hotel to attract more convention business.”

The addition of the new hotel should allow Kansas City to compete with other convention destinations such as Indianapolis, Nashville and Austin, backers said. Its first major event already is scheduled for July 2020 when the Shriners International convention is expected to draw 20,000 participants.

The project also is expected to create 400 permanent jobs and another 1,500 construction jobs. Locally-based J.E. Dunn Construction is the contractor and Atlanta-based Cooper Carry is the architect.

To read the complete story, visit CitySceneKC.com.


Downtown Dazzle will light up the city – now thru Jan. 1

Downtown Dazzle – the official Downtown Kansas City holiday experience – returns this Friday and will continue daily through Jan. 1, 2018.

The fourth annual Downtown Dazzle will offer more more than a full month of holiday fun for Kansas City residents and visitors of all ages. The seasonal event brings people together from across the region to explore Downtown Kansas City and celebrate the season with holiday lights, special experiences and dining and shopping exclusives.

Downtown Dazzle will get off to a fast and festive start with the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Crown Center and a dazzling holiday lighting installation presented by Sprint at Washington Square Park,

Downtown Dazzle serves as an umbrella for promoting all of the holiday-themed arts, entertainment and cultural events that occur in Downtown KC neighborhoods and districts, such as:

For more information, visit DowntownDazzle.com and/or VisitKC.com.


Design community to share insights on Orchestrated Urbanism

The Center for Architecture & Design will present a thought-provoking program on Orchestrated Urbanism:  The Race-Built City next Wednesday, Nov. 29 at AIA Kansas City. Tickets are still available, but it is nearly a sell-out. See below for registration details.

The program stems from research conducted by Tyler Cukar, a New York architect and urban designer. Cukar has researched Kansas City and the damaging role that racial covenants, red-lining, school desegregation and finally, urban renewal played in shaping not only our cities but also our social understandings of the communities.

Cukar, a Parkville native who currently works at FXFOWLE in New York City, will be joined by Kate Collignon, a partner at HR&A Advisors in New York, and Gwendolyn Grant, president & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.

“This is a timely topic that both impacts and resonates with the design community,” said Dawn Taylor, executive director of AIA Kansas City. “This topic is challenging, but we believe our audience will bring thoughtful approaches to this difficult context. We envision a high-caliber discussion and impactful experience for our audience.”

Orchestrated Urbanism:  The Race-Built City will be presented from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the Center for Architecture & Design, 1801 McGee St. Tickets are $20 for the general public, and $10 for Center members and students. Tickets are nearly sold out, but remaining seats are available here.


Symposium to focus on ‘Race, Place & Diversity’ this week

As the nation grapples with increasing scenarios of unrest and change affecting millions of Americans, the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey (KCFAA) presents a symposium on “Race, Place, & Diversity” to address the deeper systemic issues behind the turmoil from 11 a.m. to  8 p.m., Thursday, in various venues in the 18th & Vine District.

KCFAA is committed to a five-year symposium project that focuses attention on fostering awareness of issues of diversity at the local, regional, national and international level. The discussion will focus on race, place, and diversity, and how each influences the current condition and future of Kansas City. Featured speakers will share their contributions to American cultural arts and give important insights on their journey of life, struggle, and success.

“KCFAA’s Symposium on Race, Place and Diversity is designed to create points of intersection and commonality while celebrating our uniqueness by bringing light to past transgressions through a series of workshops and discussions about how we got here in order to develop opportunities for greater understanding,” said panelist Tyrone Aiken, KCFAA chief artistic officer.

Race, Place & Diversity will feature two components on Thursday, followed by the Award Dinner on Friday:

  • Symposium Sessions – from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday – including lunch, breakout sessions and a panel wrap-up at the America Jazz Museum. Admission is $60.
  • Town Hall – from 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday – featuring questions and insights with panel members and the public at the Gem Theater. It is free and open to the public.
  • Award Dinner – 6 p.m. reception; 7:00 p.m. dinner (on Friday) and award presentation to Debbie Allen for her lifetime contributions to diversity in the arts; and after-party at the Muehlebach Marriott Downtown. For tickets, visit the KCFAA.

The Symposium and Town Hall will feature Susan B. Wilson, Ph.D., vice chancellor, UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion; Gwendolyn Grant, president/CEO, Urban League of Greater Kansas City; Juan Rangel, director, Gateway to College, Donnelly College; Michael V. Toombs, founder/CEO, The Storytellers Inc., Artist Collective. The discussion is moderated by Michelle T. Johnson and Aiken.

For more information, visit the KCFAA website.

City School Fair will connect families with KC schools

The second annual City School Fair is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Central Library.

Show Me Schools, a nonprofit organization with a mission to help families find the right school for their children is co-hosting Kansas City’s second annual K-12 City School Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Central Library.

The event will feature 55 K-12 district, charter, private and parochial schools – including the Crossroads Charter Schools in Downtown – along with free food and a performance by the Stone Lion Puppets and library fine forgiveness for all who attend.

Click here for a complete list of schools participating in Saturday’s fair.

With nearly 90 district, charter, private and parochial schools in the Kansas City Public Schools’ boundaries, it can be overwhelming for parents or care navigating the school options can be overwhelming.

“The City School Fair is a high energy event. Parents and caregivers can have one-on-one conversations with school administrators and current school families,” said Tricia Johnson, Show Me Schools’ executive director. “Families can have their questions answered and use this opportunity to collect – and, for some schools, complete – applications.”

For more information, visit the City School Fair online.







KC voters overwhelmingly approve ‘A Better KCI’

Mayor Sly James embraces City Councilman Jermaine Reed in celebration of the overwhelming ‘Better KCI’ vote on Tuesday evening at a rally in Briarcliff.

Kansas City voters on Tuesday approved a $1 billion, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport with a whopping 75 percent of the vote.

This outcome frees the City of Kansas City to demolish KCI’s distinctive but outmoded trio of horseshoe-shaped terminals in favor of a single, privately financed $1 billion terminal that could be open by late 2021.

Passage of the ballot measure ends more than six years of study, false starts, political turbulence and disarray at City Hall, capped by a rocky selection process over the summer to finally choose a company to build the new terminal, reported The Kansas City Star

“When we get it right, there’s nothing we can’t do as a city,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James told a raucous pro-KCI election party last night at the Royal Room in Briarcliff.

With nearly all precincts reporting, supporters landed 47,394 votes, compared to 15,567 from the opposition. That works out to 75 percent voting in favor. Turnout was about 20 percent.

To read the complete story, visit The Kansas City Star 

Downtown Council to honor Hall family, Hallmark Cards, Crown Center

Al Mauro, Jr. (center) received the Downtown Council’s highest honor, the J. Philip Kirk, Jr. Award, early this year. The 2016 award was presented by Pat Ottensmeyer of Kansas City Southern (left) and Steve Dunn of J.E. Dunn Construction.

The Downtown Council of Kansas City has chosen the Hall family, along with Hallmark Cards and Crown Center, to receive the 2017 J. Philip Kirk, Jr. Award early next year in recognition of community vision and downtown stewardship.

The award will be presented at the DTC Annual Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 in the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center before an audience of more than 1,000 community champions.

“I’m thrilled that the Hall family will be the recipient of the Downtown Council’s Phil Kirk award,” said Cathy Smith, Chair of the DTC and vice president of corporate planning for Faultless Starch/Bon Ami. “Through Hallmark Cards, Crown Center, and their own civic leadership, the Halls have contributed greatly to making Kansas City the creative, artistic, and culturally advanced city that it is.”

Hallmark Cards has operated its corporate headquarters in Downtown Kansas City since the company was founded in 1910. In 1968, the company established the Crown Center Redevelopment Corp. to revitalize more than 85 acres within the urban core.  Today, the Crown Center campus is home to Hallmark’s headquarters, along with hotels, offices, residential housing, entertainment venues and retail shops.

“Hallmark and the Hall Family are deeply honored to receive this award,” said Hallmark CEO Don Hall, Jr., “because it celebrates the economic vitality of Kansas City, something the company and my family have been deeply committed to for generations.”

The Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Crown Center creates an indelible, iconic picture of joy and creativity in Kansas City during the holiday season annually.

Today, Hallmark is a diversified portfolio of businesses with about $4 billion in annual revenues and 28,000 employees worldwide. The company is led by CEO Don Hall, Jr. and President Dave Hall, grandsons of founder J.C. Hall and the sons of Donald J. Hall, Hallmark board chairman.

Hallmark’s key businesses include: greeting cards and gift wrap, Hallmark Gold Crown retail stores, home décor and gifts, Crayola art materials and toys, Crown Media cable television channels, and Crown Center, a real estate development company.

“The Kirk Award honors leaders whose vision, guidance and commitment have contributed to setting Downtown Kansas City on the path to revitalization,” said Bill Dietrich, president & CEO of the Downtown Council. “The Halls epitomize these qualities in their professional and personal lives, as did the award’s namesake.”

Since 1943, the Hall Family Foundation has been a catalyst to enrich the community and help people. Donald J. Hall serves as board chairman for the family’s foundation which has played a leadership role in countless transformative Downtown projects, including the redevelopment of the Quality Hill neighborhood, the restoration of Union Station, the expansion of Children’s Mercy Hospital, the restoration of the Folly Theater, the new building addition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the construction of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The Kirk Award selection panel, consisting of Downtown Council officers and past chairs, bases its recommendation on the nominee’s contributions to Downtown Kansas City in at least two of the following areas:

  • Creating a capital investment, new building, renovation or technology
  • Increasing the Downtown residential or employee population, business starts or entrepreneurial retail starts
  • Improving Downtown neighborhoods and quality of life, in the areas of businesses, housing, streetscape or the urban environment
  • Displaying a continued commitment to improving the social fabric of Downtown

The establishment of the Phil Kirk Award in 2002 marked a strategic decision to recognize those leaders, those champions who have played critical roles in lifting Downtown from the depths of despair in the 1980s and 1990s into the juggernaut that we see today. For a list of past recipients, including the 2016 recipient, Al Mauro, Jr. (pictured here) go to http://www.downtownkc.org/awards/.

The award will be presented at the Downtown Council’s 2018 Annual Luncheon that will unfold from11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26 in the Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom. Learn more about the luncheon, sponsorship opportunities and registration details at: http://www.downtownkc.org/annual-luncheon/

Edgemoor reveals preliminary design for new KCI terminal

A new look for KCI: Edgemoor unveils preliminary designs for the new airport terminal to the City Council today.

A two-story fountain anchors the sleek, modern, initial design concepts unveiled to the City Council on Thursday by Edgemoor Infrastructure, the team recently selected as the preferred proposer for the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

Skidmore, Ownings & Merrill (SOM), an internationally-known architecture firm, has incorporated elements that reflect Kansas City’s cultural heritage into the preliminary design. The two-story fountain in the center of the terminal would include technology to project messages and colors on the cascading water to welcome travelers.

SOM’s Derek Moore presented the concepts to the City Council today (Thursday). Following a successful election on Nov. 7, the design team will discuss the concepts and collect feedback from Kansas City residents and airport users through a series of design open houses in each council district during November and December.

Convenience for travelers is a major element of the design as well. The design features close-in parking, and a two-level curbside pick-up and drop-off area which will be faster and more convenient for travelers. Also, waiting areas at each gate will have room for the increased number of passengers on today’s planes.

Edgemoor has also created a website  https://www.kci-edgemoor.com/  and Twitter account @Edgemoordevel to engage with the community and share information about the design and new terminal development project.

Financing for the new terminal will be paid back from airport revenues, and the city will continue to own and operate the airport. More information about the project is available on the city’s website at www.kcmo.gov/newkci.

For more information about the project, contact Chris Hernandez, City Communications Director, 816-513-3474 or chris.hernandez@kcmo.org.

Main Street MAX moving to Grand Blvd. on Oct. 1

RideKC will launch a new route for the Main Street MAX on Sunday, Oct. 1- complete with a free family celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. at Washington Square Park near Crown Center.

Beginning on Sunday, the Main Street MAX route will change in Downtown, and run on Grand from 3rd Street in the River Market to Crown Center.

This change will allow for quicker travel through Downtown, allowing riders to arrive at their destination sooner. The Main Street MAX will no longer run its circuitous route on Wyandotte, Main, Oak, 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th streets.

MAX will complement KC Streetcar’s frequent service in Downtown on Main and will continue to connect to the streetcar in River Market. South of Crown Center, the Main Street MAX will not change, serving midtown, Country Club Plaza, Brookside and Waldo.

Family Celebration on Sunday

The free family celebration event will features food trucks, free inflatable games, and music from DJ Soap beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday.

There will be plenty of prizes and catch-themed giveaways. KC Streetcar, Mid-America Regional Council and B-Cycle will join RideKC at the party. RideKC will also unveil its second Scavenger Hunt, focused on destinations along Main MAX.

“Customer response to this change has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Kansas City Area Transit Authority (KCATA) CEO and President Robbie Makinen. “Downtown has changed a lot in the 12 years since MAX started. Riders are looking forward to a quicker, easier ride on one of our most popular routes.”

Schedule Changes for Main MAX

Spurred by the route change for the Main Street MAX, the KCATA all times on the route will change, effective Sunday, Oct. 1.

On weekdays during the daytime, Main MAX runs every 10 minutes between Downtown and The Plaza, and every 20 minutes south of The Plaza. During weekday evenings, Main MAX runs every 15 minutes between Downtown and The Plaza, and every 30 minutes south of The Plaza.

On Saturday during the day, the Main MAX runs every 15 minutes between Downtown and The Plaza, and every 30 minutes south of The Plaza. On Saturday evenings and all day on Sunday, Main MAX runs every 30 minutes, with all service traveling between Downtown and Waldo.

New maps and schedules are available at RideKC.org and on board Main MAX buses.

And, for more information in general, visit KCATA.org.