DTC seeks federal grant for South Loop Link
Reporting by CitySceneKC.com
The Downtown Council is applying for a federal grant to continue planning an estimated $160 million South Loop Link that would create a four-block park spanning the busy freeway that divides the Central Business District from the Crossroads Arts District.
The application is seeking $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation that would be matched with $600,000 from local sources to pursue the ambitious endeavor that’s been contemplated for more than a decade.
“It’s going to be a reality check on our willingness to commit to moving forward with the project,” Bill Dietrich, president and CEO, told the Downtown Council Board of Directors this month. “This came up 10 to 15 years ago and the market wasn’t ready for it. Today, that area is a very different looking piece of real estate with a lot of new partners… So we think the time is right to do this.”
The latest iteration of the proposed South Loop Link would cover the freeway from Wyandotte to Grand. Dietrich said the concept calls for the park to feature a terrace from Wyandotte to Baltimore because of the steep grade. Other uses being considered for the park include flexible lawn space, a pavilion for music and entertainment and a dog park.
A consultant has recommended two blocks of the park to be used for programming to help cover the operational cost of the park.
The Downtown Council has looked to Klyde Warren Park in Dallas as an example of a successful freeway decking project. The park, which opened in 2012, covers a three-block stretch of a freeway between the city’s Uptown neighborhood and downtown.
The Dallas project cost about $110 million with the cost split evenly between public and private funding sources. Dietrich said the park’s ongoing operation and programming is being funded privately.
“People will pay a premium to be around this kind of amenity,” Dietrich told the board of directors.
The cost of the proposed South Loop Link project could be divided evenly between local, Missouri Department of Transportation and federal sources, Dietrich said.
“With the stimulus bill coming out in post-COVID recovery there may be chance to pull some more federal largesse at this time,” he added. “Strategically, this is the right time to look at it.”