This is a moment of clarity and opportunity for Downtown Kansas City.
The KC urban core is riding a 15-year wave of growth and prosperity that is attracting residents, employers and talent, while unlocking opportunities and engaging private investment in Downtown. The momentum is gaining speed every day, as evidenced by more than $2 billion in new economic development projects – to date – that have begun along the Downtown streetcar line in just the last 2.5 years.
In the face of this urban propulsion, the Downtown Council (DTC) on Friday introduced a new platform – the State of Downtown – to report objective data that captures progress and trends, as well as distinguishes Downtown KC locally, regionally and nationally.
This marriage of clarity and opportunity has resulted in the release of the first State of Downtown report by the DTC, in cooperation with mySidewalk, an independent data clearinghouse in Kansas City. The inaugural report – drawn from objective data sources such as the U.S. Census – is available at www.downtownkc.org/data.
“Downtown Kansas City is experiencing an incredible boom,” said Bill Dietrich, President & CEO of the DTC. “With its highest population and growth rate since Kansas City’s population peak in 1970, investment and construction in Downtown infrastructure, housing and business is all increasing.
“When you add it together, Downtown has a youthful, diverse, growing population of high-wage earners in a growing economy in the most affordable, amenity-rich neighborhood in our region.”
A sampling of results from the initial State of Downtown indicates:
- 41% of Downtown residents are Millennials (roughly, ages 20-36); a greater share of the population of Kansas City, Mo., or the metropolitan KC area
- Downtown KC’s Millennial population is very comparable to our U.S. peer cities
- 74% of all Downtown residents are younger than Baby Boomers (ages 53-71)
- Downtown has the highest job density in the metropolitan area with more than 81,000 jobs, as of 2015. Given that, less than 1 percent of the city’s landmass generates 27 percent of its employment opportunities.
- Employees in Downtown collectively earn more than $3.5 billion in total annual wages; in earning tax alone, that amounts to $35 million in revenue to the city annually
“Our work with continuously updated data provided through mySidewalk is designed to elevate the economic engine of Downtown, as well as to escalate the Downtown Council’s efforts to create a vibrant, diverse and economically sustainable community,” Nate Orr, Chair of the Downtown Council and Partner at Spencer Fane, told an audience of 1,000 Downtown stakeholders on Friday at the Kansas City Convention Center.
mySidewalk is a city intelligence tool that helps analysts extract data out of silos and into operational, strategic, and policy decisions. It provides the DTC with the tools necessary to capture accurate, objective data and to compare Kansas City with most of the major metropolitan area across the United States.
The resulting State of Downtown report aligns data for Downtown Kansas City with the downtowns of peer cities, including Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Ky; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Antonio, Texas. The platform enables us to pull data from almost any city in America.
“The State of Downtown report features an online dashboard to illustrate the significant progress Downtown Kansas City has achieved in our economy, housing, development and quality of life sectors,” Dietrich said.
Orr’s announcement not only reflects the dynamic forward progress that is palpable in Downtown Kansas City, but also that is underscored by data (a broad sampling of public and private data sources) data that is now available to the DTC through statistical data that track key indicators, answer questions about city progress, and create reports that drive awareness and action.
“What is great about these reports is that once designed they automatically update as new data becomes available,” Dietrich explained. “Plus, you can continuously add new data sources for richer reports.”
Context for the State of Downtown report
The first edition of the State of Downtown report offers numerous insights and findings about Downtown Kansas City – both in relationship for the metropolitan area, as well as to peer cities across the nation.
Dietrich shared some of the highlights, along with his conclusions:
KC is a young Downtown, but appeals to all ages
The big story of the recent decade is that Millennials continue to seek experiential living and Downtown Kansas City, MO provides that in abundance. We see that more than 40 percent of the population living in Downtown KC is Millennial (roughly, ages 20-36), but that Gen X (ages 37-52) and Baby Boomers (53-71) regularly choose to live Downtown as well.
Some 41 percent of Downtown KC residents are Millennials – greater than in peer downtowns of Cincinnati, Louisville and San Antonio, and trailing Charlotte and Salt Lake City.
Downtown KC is diverse
According to the U.S Census Bureau, Downtown Kansas City, is one of the most diverse areas in the region with over 53% per capita of its population being an ethnically diverse cross section of African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and those of mixed ancestry. This adds to the vibrancy and resilience of our downtown culture spurring greater diversity in development, retail, and restaurants.
When compared to the greater Kansas City, MSA, Downtown Kansas City is almost twice as diverse. This healthy mix of unique individuals creates the rich cultural experience that drives the vibrancy and resilience of our Downtown. This Downtown truly is everybody’s neighborhood.
Affordable: Percent of income spent on housing and transportation
Downtown KC provides the lowest percent of income spent on housing and transportation at 41.8 percent – compared to the City of Kansas City, MO at 49 percent and the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area at 51 percent. Among peer cities, KC proved to be one of the more affordable downtowns.
Economy: Job density
Downtown Kansas City has the highest density of jobs in the region. The Central Business District, for example, has a job density of nearly 100 jobs per acre. However, taken as a whole, there is still room to add more jobs to Downtown. And, when compared to peer cities, Greater Downtown KC sets in the middle at 30 jobs per acre.
Downtown Kansas City is the economic center of the region. It has the highest job density in the metropolitan area with more than 80,000 jobs. Employees in Downtown work across a wide variety of occupations collectively earning more than $3.5 billion in total annual wages.
“The State of Downtown report is an effective platform for telling the Downtown Kansas City story with facts, figures and reliable data,” Dietrich said. “Downtown is a satisfying place to work, thanks in part to the incredible retail districts and amenities enjoyed by residents, workers, and visitors alike.
“It’s no exaggeration to say Downtown Kansas City is the economic hub of the region.”