Black & Veatch unveils Cleantech Accelerator powered by LaunchKC

Hyleme George, Director of the IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator Program for Black & Veatch, reveals plans for its new Cleanteach Accelerator, powered by LaunchKC, on Wednesday.

Engineering and construction company Black & Veatch cemented its place in the Kansas City startup ecosystem Wednesday by introducing its IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator, powered by LaunchKC at a kickoff announcement event at Boulevard Beer Hall.

Black & Veatch, the largest engineering company in the Kansas City area, is a global leader in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for energy, water and telecommunications. It’s IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator marks one of its boldest moves into the entrepreneurial arena of engineering services. The company recently created a segment of the company known as the Growth Accelerator, leveraging Black & Veatch’s core strengths to explore new and emerging markets.

Black & Veatch’s IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator, powered by LaunchKC will seek partnership with startups focused on renewable and distributed energy, mobility, agricultural technology, machine learning and AI, and other technologies or processes adding value to engineering services. The program will include equity awards, a 75-day period of collaboration with Black & Veatch and program supporters, and a demo day in November. The application is scheduled to open next week, and will be located on the IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator website.

“Partnering with LaunchKC is a natural extension of our effort to constantly challenge convention and advance the way we deliver value for clients,” said Hyleme George, Director of the IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator Program. “LaunchKC’s reputation for identifying attractive and innovative startups will ultimately result in access to a new and exciting pool of talent and great ideas.”

“The bottom line of the new platform is to attract scalable companies to the city to create more jobs and opportunities while growing our economy,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president, business and job development for the EDC.

Businesses who choose to participate in the Black & Veatch IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator, powered by LaunchKC will gain valuable training and insight to grow their business through collaboration with a top global infrastructure provider, as well as exposure and networking opportunities with an experienced network of investors, supporters and clients in Kansas City and around the world.

“The City of Kansas City, Mo. continues to build on its track record of smart city success. The City pioneered a range of public-private partnerships from 2015 through today to deliver critical infrastructure and data-driven policy evolutions. This allows us to explore new business models and engage entrepreneurs and firms across our ecosystem,” said Bob Bennett, chief innovation officer for the City of KCMO. “The commitment to the Cleantech vertical accelerator extends those efforts. The City and its partners are proud to support the development of new technologies in sustainability and data-driven systems management.”

Solomon explained that industry-focused business accelerators provide a more complete bundle of benefits for entrepreneurs, including seed investment, connections, mentorship, and educational components. The new LaunchKC programs will feature public pitch days to showcase each cohort of entrepreneurs. The events are designed to accelerate their growth.

“The accelerator platform will provide investors pathways to take equity stakes in early-stage businesses after grants have been awarded,” he said.

“The industry-focused business accelerator platform will continue to reward entrepreneurs with grants to help them in growing their businesses,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for the Downtown Council (DTC) and LaunchKC, “but will add more pathways to assist them in elevating their chances of success.”

LaunchKC, the 5-year-old grants competition for tech startups nationwide, will work in partnership with Black & Veatch to provide competition management, marketing and event services. LaunchKC is a joint venture of the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

The nonprofit LaunchKC competition awarded $2 million in grants to 38 tech startup businesses over four years. Today, 34 of the grant winners – or 90 percent – are still in business, posting milestones (as of year-end 2018) that include:

  • 167 full-time employees; up 10-fold since 2015
  • $11.7 million in cumulative sales; up from $199,000 in 2015
  • $48 million in cumulative investment – up from $2 million in year one

LaunchKC is funded by the Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and local corporate and philanthropic organizations, including the Kansas City Power & Light District, JE Dunn Construction, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, KCP&L, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Lathrop Gage, Lead Bank, Missouri Department of Economic Development and Port KC.

LaunchKC elevates grants program to accelerator platform

Drew Solomon, right, prepares to reveal the nine 2018 LaunchKC grant winners, during a ceremony at No Other Pub in October,

LaunchKC opens the next chapter of its evolution this week.

Over the past four years, LaunchKC has awarded $2 million to attract and retain 38 tech startup businesses in Kansas City. Beginning this week, LaunchKC will grow from a 5-year-old grants-based program into a tech accelerator platform that will feature advantages and opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and the tech ecosystem of Kansas City.

“The bottom line of the new platform is to attract scalable companies to the city to create more jobs and opportunities while growing our economy,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president, business and job development for the Economic Development Corp. (EDC) of Kansas City, Mo.

LaunchKC is a joint venture of the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the EDC.

Solomon explained that industry-focused business accelerators provide a more complete bundle of benefits for entrepreneurs, including seed investment, connections, mentorship and educational components. The new LaunchKC programs will feature public pitch days to showcase each cohort of entrepreneurs. The events are designed to introduce their polished business pitches, and open the door to accelerating their growth.

LaunchKC is working to support three KC-based industry-focused accelerators in 2019, including a second year with Fountain City Fintech (financial technology) with nbkc bank, a health tech accelerator that is currently in the works, and a CleanTech accelerator that will be announced on Wednesday.

To learn more about the LaunchKC strategy, check out today’s story in Startland

KC Streetcar extension receives positive federal rating

The KC Streetcar Authority is working to expand streetcar service from the Downtown area to UMKC campus at 51st and Main.

The KC Streetcar project team recently received a positive rating from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for the Main Street Extension to the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), marking a crucial step in moving the streetcar extension project towards construction.

With the release of the FTA’s annual New Starts report, the KC Streetcar Main Street Extension project received a Medium-High rating, which will position this project to compete favorably with projects from across the country for federal funding. Though this is an important prerequisite to a future federal grant agreement, it is not a formal commitment of federal funding.

“This is the rating our team had hoped and worked for,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the KC Streetcar Authority. “The rating reinforces the success of our Downtown starter line and positions our Main Street extension amongst the most deserving projects in the entire country.”

 

The summary report from FTA is available online. The list of current Capital Investment Grant projects is also online.

“The FTA is keeping their eye on the innovative things happening in Kansas City,” said Robbie Makinen, KCATA President & CEO. “This positive rating is an important step to moving forward with streetcar expansion and better integrating our regional RideKC system.”

“This is good news,” said Joe Reardon, President & CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber. “The KC Streetcar has been an unqualified success, and the FTA rating bodes well for plans to extend the line to UMKC.  We know the extension will lead to further economic development and provide critical mass transit connections for our workforce.”

In Fall 2018, the KC Streetcar project team, consisting of the KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA), the KC Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), and the City of Kansas City, MO (KCMO), submitted the formal application to the FTA for the New Starts Capital Investment Grants Program, seeking $151 million dollars in federal funding and inclusion in the federal 2020-year budget to support the estimated $316 million-dollar project.

The New Starts grant program funds transit capital investments including heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars and bus rapid transit systems. Both federal and local funding are needed to move this project into design and construction. Local funding was approved by the voters in the establishment of the Main Street Rail Transportation Development District (TDD). The KC Streetcar project team is seeking $151 million in federal funding to be combined with $164 million in local funding from the voter-approved TDD, reflecting a 48% federal funding and 52% local funding match.

Since application submittal, the KC Streetcar project team has continued to work on overall project development activities, station stop location and track alignments, NEPA/environmental documentation and development of a detailed financial plan in order to apply for federal funding.  Additionally, the KC Streetcar project team recently issued a Request for Qualifications/Proposals for professional Engineering and Architectural Services for the Main Street Extension Project. The work includes Project Management, Engineering and Architectural designs, drawings, calculations, reports, schedules and cost estimates.

The deadline to submit proposals is 2 p.m. April 25, 2019. The direct link to the RFQ/P can be found on the City’s website here: Project Number: 89022014-001.

A full report about the analysis and design work for the proposed streetcar stop locations and track alignment, including renderings of streetcars traveling through midtown, are located on the KC Streetcar website, www.kcstreetcar.org/mainstreet-extension. The project narrative for the KC Streetcar Main Street Extension New Starts application is also located on the KC Streetcar website, www.kcstreetcar.org/mainstreet-extension.

Santos Ramirez to lead operations for the CIDs

The 2019 Leadership Team for the Downtown and River Market CIDs includes (from left) Marvin Williams, maintenance supervisor; Mark Rowlands, director of contracts; Sean O’Byrne, executive director; Frank Jackson, safety supervisor; Arthur Chatman (top), landscape/maintenance supervisor; Justin Tatum, communications manager; Ronell Bailey, safety supervisor/special event coordinator; Sheila Tatum, maintenance supervisor; Santos Ramirez, director of operations; and Daniel Moon, safety supervisor.

As the River Market CID begins its new fiscal year, the district is positioned for a strong and effective 2019 thanks to its new leadership team. Every member of the supervisory group has risen through the CID ranks to assume new positions of authority.

“Every member of the leadership team has earned his or her place through years of service and outstanding achievement,” said Sean O’Byrne, executive director of the CIDs.

Members of the CID leadership team will be profiled in a new, monthly series of CID blog points. Today’s piece on Santos Ramirez is the first in that series.

Santos Ramirez – Director of Operations

This 16-year veteran of the Community Improvement Districts was selected in 2018 to lead day-to-day operations of the Downtown and River Market CIDs.

In addition to the many responsibilities of his new role, Santos is focused on updating the CID fleet and mobile kiosk; adjusting work shifts to accommodate busy times in the Central Business District and River Market; and building better lines of communications with managers of Downtown residential properties. He also wants to advance the Racheal Project, designed to help the homeless maintain jobs and help them find long-term housing solutions.

Santos has big plans for 2019. He is working with program developers EB Systems to incorporate work orders into the smart device app that the Ambassadors use daily to make CID services more efficient. New vehicles will be purchased soon to help the team tackle a growing number of duties covering nearly 200 city blocks. And, Santos plans to upgrade the CIDs aging two-way radio system to take advantage of technological advances.

Santos got his CID start in 2003 as a Maintenance Ambassador before moving quickly to the Security team and later to the Supervisory group. Santos is a native Kansas Citian, and attended J.C. Harmon High School.  Santos, his wife Christina, and family, including three sons (two who attend Rockhurst High School and the youngest who attends Our Lady of Hope) live in the historic Westside neighborhood.

 

Next month – Profiles on the other members of the CID leadership group coming on Wednesday, April 17.

 

Loews CEO calls for decking South Loop at DTC luncheon

Jonathan Tisch, CEO & Chairman of Loews Hotels, shares plans for the Loews Kansas City Hotel with Jeff Jones, President & CEO, during the Keynote Conversation with the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon audience on Thursday.

Story courtesy of Kevin Collison, CitySceneKC.com

“Loews Hotel Chairman Jonathan Tisch strongly backed an ambitious plan to cap part of the South Loop where it slices through Downtown at the Annual Luncheon of the Downtown Council on Thursday.

“When I think about a big idea, it’s right outside this convention center and that is a cap over the highway,” Tisch told the audience in the Kay Barnes Ballroom at Bartle Hall. “That is a project that needs to happen.”

Tisch and Jeffrey J. Jones II, President & CEO of H&R Block, participated in a “keynote conversation” at the Downtown Council event. More than 900 people attended, and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also addressed the audience.

Tisch also said Kansas City will have to step up its marketing game to capitalize on its investment in the 800-room Loews Convention Center Hotel now under construction and the 1,600 additional hotel rooms recently completed or in the pipeline.

He described Visit KC, the area’s primary tourism and convention business generator, as being “underfunded.”

A rendering of how a park above the South Loop might look. (HNTB)

“There has to be a commitment to understanding the competitive nature of this business and making sure that Visit KC has the resources available to get the kinds of groups that want to be in Kansas City, that view this as a great destination,” Tisch said.

“There have to be more resources for VisitKC. It’s an important, essential partner of how this city has to grow in this industry.”

In a recent interview with CityScene KC, Jason Fulvi, the new CEO and president of Visit KC, also said his agency’s budget needed to be increased significantly.

During his presentation, Tisch also revealed a virtual reality video tour of the $322.7 million hotel now under construction at 17th and Wyandotte. It’s slated to open in spring 2020.

The governor repeated the themes of his recent State of the State speech at which he said rebuilding Missouri’s infrastructure and improving workforce development would be his primary goals.

Supporters of Downtown revitalization were pleased Parson attended the gathering. His predecessor, Eric Greitens, was considered anti-city after he vetoed state funding for the proposed UMKC Downtown Conservatory, essentially killing the endeavor.

Gov. Mike Parson congratulates Mayor Kay Barnes on her selection as the Kirk Award winner during the DTC Annual Luncheon on Thursday.

Parson also saluted former Mayor Kay Barnes, who received the Downtown Council’s J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award this year. The award is named after the late leader of DST Realty, and honors leaders who have helped revive Downtown.

“Fourteen years ago, I was at Kay’s house,” Parson said. “She was talking about her vision for Kansas City and telling me as a young legislator how important Downtown was and her vision of where this town was headed. Fourteen years later, those visions are coming true.”

Under Barnes leadership, several of the most important initiatives that helped redevelop downtown were launched including the Power & Light District, new H&R Block headquarters and the Sprint Center.

The former mayor praised Phil Kirk, noting he had been the best man at her first wedding.

“Keep up the good work,” she told the audience. “We live in a great city so let’s continue to grow and be even stronger in the future.”

Also honored at the event were four individuals who received the Downtown Council Urban Hero Awards: Chris Goode, founder and CEO of Ruby Jean’s Juicery; Christopher Harris, founder of the Harris Park Midtown Sports & Activity Center; Cheryl Kimmi, executive director of KC Creates, and Kite Singleton, an long-time rail-transit advocate.

This years Urban Heroes were from left: Christopher Harris, Cheryl Kimmi, Kite Singleton and Chris Goode.

The proposal to build a cap with a park above the South Loop advocated by Tisch has been receiving strong attention over the past year.

Last March, a study by HNTB commissioned by the Downtown Council estimated a four-block section of the freeway could be decked and landscaped for $139 million, significantly less than the previous $200 million estimate.

Last summer, officials said they’d approach the Missouri Department of Transportation to seek funding assistance and had scaled back the proposal to three blocks.

As recently as two weeks ago, City Manager Troy Schulte cited the ambitious proposal during a luncheon meeting.

Tisch observed the city has benefited from good leadership in recent years and hoped the city would continue that trend in the upcoming mayoral election.

“We all have to be careful of who we elect to office,” he said. “When I think about the leadership that Mayor James and his predecessors have salvaged to get Kansas City where it is today, that is dynamic. Enlightened elected officials make a difference.”’

Stay abreast of Downtown news, by registering for the free, weekly CityScene KC email review here.

For more coverage of the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon, follow this link to the Kansas City Business Journal

Annual Luncheon to elevate momentum of Downtown KC

Downtown Kansas City’s ascension into becoming the region’s leading destination for visitors, tourists, conventioneers and businesses will be the main course of the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Thursday at the Kansas City Convention Center.

The annual event Destination Downtown KC is expected to attract more than 1,000 business, civic and philanthropic leaders who will learn first-hand and celebrate Downtown’s progress, accomplishments and fiscal health.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

Gov. Mike Parson will address the Downtown Council (DTC) audience on Thursday, his first appearance at a major Kansas City business gathering since taking office on June 1, as well as since delivering his first State of the State address on Jan. 16.

The Governor will speak immediately following a State of Downtown report and video delivered by William Dietrich, DTC president & CEO. The State of Downtown represents a statistical portrait of the health and trajectory of Downtown Kansas City, coupled with video images and testimonials from Downtown stakeholders.

Headlining the annual event will be a Keynote Conversation with Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., and Jeffrey J. Jones II, president and CEO of Kansas City-based H&R Block. They will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead to maintain and accelerate the growth of Downtown KC.

Loews Kansas City Hotel – the $325 million convention hotel currently under construction at 1534 Baltimore – is due to open in spring 2020. It will be located a short walk from the H&R Block World Headquarters at 13th & Main. The H&R Block move to Downtown in 2006 has long been considered a critical turning point in the early stages of Downtown’s renaissance.

Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., will join Jeffrey J. Jones II, president and CEO of H&R Block, in a Keynote Conversation at the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon on Thursday.

The Downtown Council’s annual event – this year, Destination Downtown KC – will illustrate how Downtown’s remarkable renaissance is attracting residents, conferences,  visitors, employers and workers to a thriving arts, cultural and business scene.

Downtown’s emerging role as a leading destination was underscored this week, when National Geographic Traveler selected Kansas City, Mo. as one of eight cities worldwide on its listing of 28 Best Trips Around the World that appears in its current edition.

“Most visitors to this Midwest outpost come for the barbecue and that jazz, but soon find themselves caught up in an urban renaissance,” the magazine reported.

The Destination theme also serves as a platform to showcase an urban hotel boom that is currently unfolding in Downtown, including a 200 percent increase in hotels (from eight in 2015 to 24 by 2020) and an 85 percent increase in rooms (from 3,414 to 6,415), including the 800-room Loews hotel.

Destination Downtown KC will celebrate progress and accomplishments; present awards; explore the trajectory of Downtown Kansas City for the long-term; and, enjoy the largest urban networking event of the year. The luncheon is set for 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Kay Barnes Ballroom at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Former Mayor Kay Barnes

Additional luncheon highlights

  • Presentation of the J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award in Recognition of Downtown Stewardship & Community Vision to Kay Barnes. The former mayor will be the 17th recipient of the Kirk Award, presented annually to leaders whose vision, guidance and commitment have helped set Downtown on a path for revitalization.
  • Presentation of the 2018 Urban Hero Awards honoring individuals who impact Downtown on the grassroots level. The Urban Heroes also will be honored during a reception on Wednesday evening outside of the Kay Barnes Ballroom. This year’s heroes include:
  • Presentation of the inaugural Harvey Fried Award for outstanding service by a Community Improvement District Ambassador to Daniel Moon, a Downtown CID Safety Ambassador.
  • Immediately before the luncheon, guests will participate in the Spirit of Downtown KC Exhibit. More than 50 booth spaces will highlight new developments, creative businesses and the arts of Downtown.

The Annual Luncheon will feature three honorary co-chairs, including Paul Neidlein, Midwest Regional President, JE Dunn Construction; Jeffrey J. Jones II, H&R Block; and Brenda Tinnen, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Sprint Center.

The Downtown Council appreciates the support of the luncheon’s Presenting Sponsor, JE Dunn Construction; our Platinum Sponsors, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Park University and Sprint Center. Click here to learn about our other corporate sponsors.

Luncheon planning chairs include Jerry Riffel, Attorney, Lathrop Gage, and 2019 chair the Downtown Council Board of Directors; Julie Pierce, Vice President / Director of Kansas City Operations, Henderson Engineers; and Nate Orr, Partner, Spencer Fane, and immediate past chair of the DTC Board of Directors.

To reserve your seats, visit https://www.downtownkc.org/2019-luncheon/  or contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org, or Ashley Broockerd, abroockerd@evenergy.com.

 

Gov. Parson to address Downtown Council Annual Luncheon

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson will deliver remarks at the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 24.

Gov. Mike Parson is coming to Kansas City next week to address Downtown business, civic and philanthropic leaders at the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Kansas City Convention Center.

On the heels of his first State of the State address yesterday in Jefferson City, the Governor’s office confirmed with the Downtown Council (DTC) this morning that Parson will make remarks in the luncheon program that begins at noon Thursday.

The annual event is expected to attract more than 1,000 business, civic and philanthropic leaders who will learn first-hand and celebrate Downtown’s progress, accomplishments and fiscal health.

The Governor will deliver his remarks immediately following a State of Downtown report and video delivered by William Dietrich, DTC president & CEO. The State of Downtown represents a statistical portrait of the health and trajectory of Downtown Kansas City, coupled with video images and testimonials from Downtown stakeholders.

“We are delighted to welcome Gov. Parson to the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon,” Dietrich said. “Our members and stakeholders are eager to learn more about his core legislative priorities of workforce development and infrastructure, and the critical roles they play in the future of Kansas City and the state of Missouri.”

The Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon – this year, Destination Downtown KC – will illustrate how Downtown’s remarkable renaissance is attracting residents, conferences, visitors, employers and workers to a thriving arts, cultural and business scene.

The annual event will celebrate progress and accomplishments; present awards; assess the trajectory of Downtown Kansas City for the long-term; and, embraces the largest urban networking event of the year. The luncheon is set for 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24 in the Kay Barnes Ballroom at the Convention Center.

“Downtown’s emerging role as a leading destination was underscored this week, when National Geographic Traveler selected Kansas City, Mo. as one of eight cities worldwide on its listing of 28 Best Trips Around the World that appears in its current edition.

“Most visitors to this Midwest outpost come for the barbecue and that jazz, but soon find themselves caught up in an urban renaissance,” the magazine reported.

The Destination theme also serves as a platform to showcase an urban hotel boom that is currently unfolding in Downtown, including a 200 percent increase in hotels (from eight in 2015 to 24 by 2020) and an 85 percent increase in rooms (from 3,414 to 6,415), including the 800-room Loews Kansas City Hotel at 1534 Baltimore. The 800-room Loews hotel is expected to open in spring 2020.

Additional luncheon highlights

  • Keynote Conversation between Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman and CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., and Jeffrey J. Jones II, president and CEO of Kansas City-based H&R Block. They will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead to maintain and accelerate the growth of Downtown KC.
  • Presentation of the J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award in Recognition of Downtown Stewardship & Community Vision to Kay Barnes. The former mayor – considered the architect of the revival of Downtown – will be the 17th recipient of the Kirk Award, presented annually to leaders whose vision, guidance and commitment have helped set Downtown on a path for revitalization.
  • Presentation of the 2018 Urban Hero Awards honoring individuals who impact Downtown on the grassroots level. The Urban Heroes also will be honored during a reception on Wednesday evening, Jan. 23.
  • Immediately before the luncheon, guests will participate in the Spirit of Downtown KC Exhibit. More than 50 booth spaces will highlight new developments, creative businesses and the arts of Downtown.

The Annual Luncheon will feature three honorary co-chairs, including Paul Neidlein, Midwest Regional President, JE Dunn Construction; Jeffrey J. Jones II, H&R Block; and Brenda Tinnen, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Sprint Center.

To reserve your seats, visit https://dtcluncheon.eventbrite.com or contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org, or Ashley Broockerd, abroockerd@evenergy.com.

Keynote to feature Loews Hotels, H&R Block CEOs

Downtown Kansas City’s progress in becoming the region’s leading destination for visitors, tourists and conventioneers will be the main course of the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 24 at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Headlining the annual event will be a Keynote Conversation with Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., and Jeffrey J. Jones II, president and CEO of Kansas City-based H&R Block. They will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead to maintain and accelerate the growth of Downtown KC.

Loews Kansas City Hotel – the $325 million convention hotel currently under construction at 1534 Baltimore – is due to open in spring 2020. It will be located a short walk from the H&R Block World Headquarters at 13th & Main. The H&R Block move to Downtown in 2006 has long been considered a critical turning point in the early stages of Downtown’s renaissance.

Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., will join Jeffrey J. Jones, president and CEO of H&R Block, in a Keynote Conversation at the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon on Jan. 24.

The Downtown Council’s annual event – this year, Destination Downtown KC – will illustrate how Downtown’s remarkable renaissance is attracting residents, conferences,  visitors, employers and workers to a thriving arts, cultural and business scene.

Downtown’s emerging role as a leading destination was underscored this week, when National Geographic Traveler selected Kansas City, Mo. as one of eight cities worldwide on its listing of 28 Best Trips Around the World that appears in its current edition.

“Most visitors to this Midwest outpost come for the barbecue and that jazz, but soon find themselves caught up in an urban renaissance,” the magazine reported.

The Destination theme also serves as a platform to showcase an urban hotel boom that is currently unfolding in Downtown, including a 200 percent increase in hotels (from eight in 2015 to 24 by 2020) and an 85 percent increase in rooms (from 3,414 to 6,415), including the 800-room Loews hotel.

Destination Downtown KC is expected to attract more than 1,000 business, civic and philanthropic leaders to celebrate progress and accomplishments; present awards; explore the trajectory of Downtown Kansas City for the long-term; and, enjoy the largest urban networking event of the year. The luncheon is set for 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24 in the Kay Barnes Ballroom at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Additional luncheon highlights

  • Presentation of the J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award in Recognition of Downtown Stewardship & Community Vision to Kay Barnes. The former mayor will be the 17th recipient of the Kirk Award, presented annually to leaders whose vision, guidance and commitment have helped set Downtown on a path for revitalization.
  • Presentation of the 2018 Urban Hero Awards honoring individuals who impact Downtown on the grassroots level. The Urban Heroes also will be honored during a reception on Wednesday evening, Jan. 23. This year’s heroes include:
  • Annual State of Downtown update by William Dietrich, president & CEO of the Downtown Council.
  • Immediately before the luncheon, guests will participate in the Spirit of Downtown KC Exhibit. More than 50 booth spaces will highlight new developments, creative businesses and the arts of Downtown.

The Annual Luncheon will feature three honorary co-chairs, including Paul Neidlein, Midwest Regional President, JE Dunn Construction; Jeffrey J. Jones II, H&R Block; and Brenda Tinnen, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Sprint Center.

We appreciate the support of our Presenting Sponsor, JE Dunn Construction; our Platinum Sponsors, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Park University and Sprint Center. Click here to learn about our other corporate sponsors.

Luncheon planning chairs include Jerry Riffel, Attorney, Lathrop Gage, and 2019 chair the Downtown Council Board of Directors; Julie Pierce, Vice President / Director of Kansas City Operations, Henderson Engineers; and Nate Orr, Partner, Spencer Fane, and immediate past chair of the DTC Board of Directors.

To reserve your seats, visit https://www.downtownkc.org/2019-luncheon/  or contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org, or Ashley Broockerd, abroockerd@evenergy.com.

 

Downtown KC rings out 2018 with growth, optimism

The Loews convention hotel is scheduled to open in April 2020 (Image from Cooper Carry architects)

Courtesy, Kevin Collison, CityScene KC

“Downtown Kansas City ended 2018 on a strong note with new apartment and hotel projects seemingly announced every other week and finally, after much talk, a couple of significant office developments, notably a 25-story project planned for the Power & Light District.

It also saw a growing street scene of new retailers, micro-breweries and restaurants.

In particular, the East Crossroads and Delaware Street in the River Market are emerging as the kind of fun, walkable districts that make the city a much more vibrant and appealing place.

There are warning signs heading into the new year though.

As apartment rents ratchet up closer to levels long experienced in places like Minneapolis and Denver, the call for more affordable housing is prompting City Hall to become proactive in encouraging–or forcing–developers to set aside part of their projects to meet that need.

It’s an important conversation to have, but it also has been accompanied by exaggerated fears among some people of gentrification and a growing backlash about the use of tax incentives in general to help revitalize greater Downtown.

All political fodder for the upcoming mayoral election.

Construction is underway on a nine-story research tower at Children’s Mercy Hospital’s downtown campus.

It’s important to remember that a healthy, growing greater Downtown is not only critical if Kansas City is to compete nationally with places like Nashville and Austin, but it’s also a major source of accessible jobs for people living in nearby East and West Side neighborhoods.

A prime example is the huge investments underway in the Hospital Hill medical complex which are providing both good jobs and stimulating new residential investment along Troost Avenue.

It’s not a case of Downtown vs the East Side as some people would like to frame it.

So here’s a list of notable greater Downtown news from the year gone by as covered by CityScene KC in its first full year of operation:

Downtown Kansas City – 2018

  • Jan. 4: Plan announced for a bookstore and cafe at 304 Delaware called Our Daily Nada, opens in August. Kicks off a big year of new businesses opening along a historic stretch of Delaware Street in the River Market.
  • Jan. 15: Children’s Mercy begins work on a 9-story research building following a record $150 million in donations. Hospital Hill continues to grow as major job source and development trigger for nearby Troost Avenue.
  • Jan. 18: City warns of looming affordable housing crunch downtown as tax credits begin to expire on previous affordable housing projects, number of units could decline from 2,759 to 1,140 units over next five years.
  • Jan. 19: Corrigan Station announces $11 million office expansion at the northeast corner of 19th and Main.
  • Jan. 24: Milhaus buys about two blocks in East Crossroads at 19th and Oak for apartment project, first major construction in area. By year’s end, planning well underway for a 338-unit, $72 million project.
The UMKC Conservatory originally was proposed for a site at 17th and Broadway across from the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Jan. 25: Plans for a new UMKC Downtown Conservatory across from the Kauffman Center are dealt a mortal blow when the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation withdraws its $20 million pledge. In September, UMKC makes it official when it decides to no longer pursue a downtown location for the facility.
  • Feb. 6: Casual Animal opens a brew pub at 1725 McGee, the latest addition to the growing “neigh-brew-hood” of micro-breweries in the East Crossroads.
  • Feb. 22: Crossroads Academy, downtown’s K-12 charter school, finds a new home for its high school in the historic Thayer Building at 816 Broadway. Classes began in August.
  • March 2: A groundbreaking ceremony is held for the 24-story Loews Kansas City Convention Hotel at 17th and Wyandotte. The $322.7 million project is expected to open in late April 2020.
  • March 5: An ambitious proposal to deck the South Loop with a park comes back with a cost estimate of $139 million, $60 million less than previously estimated. By year’s end, discussion were continuing.
  • March 8: Tribe, a restaurant featuring street food from around the world, opens at 316 Delaware, part of a wave of new places opening along in that historic River Market street.
  • March 12: Mildred’s, the venerable Crossroads cafe, announces its expanding into new space across the street at 1901 Wyandotte.
  • March 14: Construction kicks off on a 232-unit apartment project called The Yard in the West Bottoms, first major new construction in that area.
  • March 19: Plans announced for Parlor at 1707 Locust in the East Crossroads, part of a national food hall trend.
David Friesen decorated the new Betty Rae’s Ice Cream in the River Market with some of his vintage, ice cream-themed album covers. (Photo by Kate Collison)
  • April 17: Betty Rae’s ice cream announces it plans to join the River Market cafe scene on Delaware. It opens its second outlet at 412 Delaware in August.
  • May 4: Two Light, a 296-unit luxury apartment project opens in the Power & Light District.
  • May 9: Developers say a plan to renovate the historic Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City building at 925 Grand into a 321-room Embassy Suites hotel is still on track with a mid-2020 opening envisioned.
  • May 18: MAC Properties proposes a $78 million redevelopment plan for the four corners of Armour and Troost that would add 450 apartments, part of an wave of new investment along Troost after decades of neglect.
  • May 19: The Buck O’Neil Bridge closes its southbound lane for a six-month repair job. Bigger news, a new replacement bridge with a vastly improved connection to I-35 is in the works with an expected completion in 2023.
  • May 22: The Crossroads building housing YJ’s Snack Bar is sold, a milestone moment in the evolution of the area. YJ’s owner, artist and entrepreneur David Ford, later finds a new home for the cafe at 128 W. 18th St.
  • May 24: Plans for Three Light, a 300-unit luxury apartment project in the Power & Light District, are approved after heated debate at City Hall over city tax incentives for the project; as part of the deal, the Cordish Co. promises to renovate the historic Midland Building into affordable housing units.
The Platform Ventures redevelopment plan includes an office building and garage at the northeast corner of 13th and Wyandotte . (Image from Hoefer Wysocki)
  • May 29: Platform Ventures reveals a $132.5 million plan to redevelop the block east of Barney Allis Plaza with a 100,000 square-foot office building and garage, and renovating the historic Kansas City Club into a 144-room hotel and the upper floors of the historic Muehlbach Hotel into 190 apartments.
  • June 1: Church of the Resurrection opens a new church at 1601 Grand, the first new church to be built downtown in more than a century.
  • June 20: Plans to extend the streetcar from downtown to UMKC along Main Street advance when voters living in the Transportation Development District approve local funding. By year’s end, the Streetcar Authority was awaiting word on its application for $151.6 million in federal funding for the project.
  • June 22: The 221-unit Crossroads Westside apartment project opens between the Broadway and I-35 viaducts.
  • June 22: Copaken Brooks announces a plan for a 14-story, $40 million apartment tower with 132 units at 18th and Walnut streets.
  • June 27: The 410-unit Union apartment project opens near Berkley Riverfront Park, the first new development along the riverfront since cleanup began in the 1970s.
  • June 29: The Downtown Community Improvement District, whose workers in their black and yellow uniforms are a familiar downtown feature, is renewed through 2034.
  • July 1: The first Bird electric scooters arrive downtown.
  • July 2: Former Mayor Kay Barnes, a major force in revitalizing downtown in the early 2000s, is recognized by having the Grand Ballroom at the Convention Center named after her.
  • July 18: The 120-room 21c Museum Hotel opens in the historic Savoy Hotel and Grill following a $47.5 million renovation.
  • July 25: Plans are announced for a 13-story, 153-room Hyatt House Hotel at Ninth and Broadway.
A food hall, boutique grocer and office complex along 18th Street is planned along with renovation of the historic Star building. (Image from 3D Development)
  • July 26: Developer Vincent Bryant reveals his $95 million plan to renovate the historic Kansas City Star building into an office and data center project, the plan also includes a 500-space underground garage and new food pavilion. Earlier in the month, Kansas City Star employees leave their century-old home for new digs across McGee Street in the production building.
  • Aug. 19: Bar K, a dog park, bar and cafe, opens along the riverfront near the Union apartments.
  • Aug. 22: Longtime downtown retailer Bob Jones Shoes announces its closing at 1914 Grand.
  • Aug. 29: Work begins on a $16 million, 92-room LaQuinta Hotel at 24th and Troost.
  • Sept. 12: An ultra-luxury, 145-room hotel is proposed across from the Kauffman Center on Wyandotte; it faces a tough reception in its request for tax incentives in the new year.
  • Sept. 14: The $76.8 million City Club Apartment project at 20th and Main breaks ground after several years of planning, the 283-unit development includes the renovation of the historic Midwest Hotel.
  • Sept. 28: Afterword Tavern, a new bookstore and cafe, opens at 19th and Grand.
  • Oct. 8: Hy-Vee Arena opens in West Bottoms following a $39 million renovation of the former Kemper Arena into an amateur sports center that includes a dozen basketball courts and 350-meter indoor track.
  • Oct. 17: The 131-room Crossroads Hotel opens at 2101 Central, a post-industrial chic renovation of a former bottling plant and warehouse in the historic Pabst and Pendergast buildings.
  • Oct. 23: Drury Hotels drops a plan to build a $50 million, 242-unit hotel on the site of the vacant Board of Eduction building, saying the incentive package offered by the city was not enough to make the project financially viable.
  • Nov. 12: The historic Traders National Bank at 1125 Grand reopens following a $65 million renovation into a 201-unit luxury apartment project called The Grand.
Afterword Tavern and Shelves features a custom-built bar and small bookstore.
  • Nov. 19: A groundbreaking is held for the $35 million renovation of the historic Lyric Theater into a new, 62,000 square-foot Downtown YMCA that will include a swimming pool, indoor track fitness center and other health-related services. It’s expected to open in Spring 2021.
  • Nov. 29: Plans are announced to renovate the historic 23-story Mark Twain Tower building at 11th and Baltimore into a 202-unit apartment project at cost of $51.9 million.
  • Dec. 13: A 25-story office project called Strata is proposed for the Power & Light District at 13th and Main. The $132 million spec office building is intended to help downtown attract more private jobs.
  • Dec. 19: A plan to build a $40 million, 248-unit apartment project at 25th and Troost is announced, bringing the number of new apartments in the works along a several block stretch of Troost to almost 1,000.
  • Dec. 24: Thou Mayest, the popular East Crossroads coffee house and tavern, closes after operating four years at 419 E. 18th St. Its owners plan to find a new Downtown location in the new year.”

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Kay Barnes to receive Downtown Council’s highest honor

Former Mayor Kay Barnes was honored by the City in June with a special ceremony at the Kansas City Convention Center. A sculpture by local artist Tom Corbin was unveiled and the Grand Ballroom was dedicated in Barnes’ name. Both honor Barnes’ leadership from 1999 to 2007 that catalyzed the revival of Downtown. (Photo courtesy of The Kansas City Star.)

Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes will receive the Downtown Council’s highest honor at its Annual Luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in the Kay Barnes Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center.

Barnes is considered the architect Downtown’s renaissance. Serving as mayor from 1999-2007, she championed the rebirth of Downtown around three complementary initiatives – the relocation of the H&R Block headquarters, and the establishment of the Sprint Center and the Kansas City Power & Light District.

The former Mayor has long been dedicated to paving the way for women in Kansas City business and civic circles. She is currently serving as a leader at Park University, where she was named senior director for university engagement on July 1.

“Kay Barnes set the stage for this city’s revival that we are seeing continue to flourish,” Mayor Sly James said in June, during a ceremony that marked the dedication of the Kay Barnes Ballroom at the convention center. “If it wasn’t for what she did, we wouldn’t have this situation that we have now. It’s just that simple.”

The Downtown Council Annual Luncheon – this year titled Destination Downtown KC – will shine a spotlight on Downtown’s remarkable renaissance that is attracting meetings, residents, visitors, employers, workers and riders to a thriving arts, cultural and business scene … in addition to honoring Barnes and other urban heroes.

Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., will join Jeffrey Jones, President and CEO of H&R Block, in a keynote conversation at the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon on Jan. 24.

Downtown’s emerging role as a leading destination was underscored in early December, when National Geographic Traveler selected Kansas City, Mo. as the only U.S. city on its listing of 28 Best Trips Around the World.

“Most visitors to this Midwest outpost come for the barbecue and the jazz, but soon find themselves caught up in an urban renaissance,” the magazine reported.

The Destination theme also serves as a platform to showcase an urban hotel boom that is currently unfolding in Downtown, including a 200 percent increase in hotels (from eight in 2015 to 24 by 2020) and an 85 percent increase in rooms (from 3,414 to 6,415), including the $325 million Loews Kansas City Hotel that will open 800 new convention hotel rooms in two years.

The luncheon will feature a keynote conversation between Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., and Jeffrey Jones II, President and CEO of H&R Block. Tisch joined city leaders in August, at the official groundbreaking ceremony for the convention hotel.

“Kansas City is a vibrant destination which has experienced significant growth over the past several years,” Tisch told the Downtown Council. “We look forward to investing in and becoming an integral part of the Downtown community with our new hotel, Loews Kansas City, opening in May of 2020.”

Destination Downtown KC is expected to attract about 1,000 business, civic and philanthropic leaders to celebrate progress and accomplishments; present awards; assess the trajectory of Downtown Kansas City for the long-term; and, embraces the largest urban networking event of the year. The luncheon is set for 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 in the aptly named Kay Barnes Ballroom.

Luncheon Highlights:

    • Keynote Conversation: Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO of Loews Hotels & Co.,  and Jeffrey J. Jones II, H&R Block, will discuss the challenges to maintain or even accelerate the growth of Downtown.
    • Presentation of the J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award in Recognition of Downtown Stewardship & Community Vision to Kay Barnes. The former mayor will be the 17th recipient of the Kirk Award, presented annually to leaders whose vision, guidance and commitment have helped set Downtown on a path for revitalization.
    • Presentation of the 2018 Urban Hero Awards honoring individuals who impact Downtown on the grassroots level. The Urban Heroes also will be honored during a reception on Wednesday evening, Jan. 23. This year’s heroes include:
  • Annual State of Downtown update by William Dietrich, President & CEO of the Downtown Council.
  • Immediately before the luncheon, guests will participate in the Spirit of Downtown KC Exhibit. More than 50 booth spaces will highlight new developments, creative businesses and the arts of Downtown.

The Annual Luncheon will feature three honorary co-chairs, including Paul Neidlein, Midwest Regional President, JE Dunn Construction; Jeffrey J. Jones II, President & CEO of H&R Block; and Brenda Tinnen, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Sprint Center.

Luncheon planning chairs include Jerry Riffel, Attorney, Lathrop Gage, and 2019 chair the Downtown Council Board of Directors; Julie Pierce, Vice President / Director of Kansas City Operations, Henderson Engineers; and Nate Orr, Partner, Spencer Fane, and immediate past chair of the DTC Board of Directors.

To reserve your space at the luncheon, visit https://www.downtownkc.org/2019-luncheon/  or contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org, or Ashley Broockerd, abroockerd@evenergy.com.

All aboard for 2019 Annual Luncheon: Destination Downtown KC

Kansas City Mayor Sly James addressed the 2018 Downtown Council Annual Luncheon full house audience early this year.

Downtown Kansas City’s ascension to becoming the region’s leading destination for conventions, visitors, and business and leisure travelers will be the main course of the next Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 at the Kansas City Convention Center.

“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 a revised downtown, which now skews closer to “bustling” than “desolate” many nights,” The New York Times reported in July.

“You can see what is arguably the single best embodiment of the phenomenon for yourself” – the KC Streetcar – “at regular intervals as you stroll along – or even stand still – on Downtown’s Main Street.”

The Downtown Council’s annual event – this year, Destination Downtown KC – will illustrate Downtown’s miraculous renaissance that is attracting meetings, residents, visitors, employers, workers and riders to a thriving arts, cultural and business scene.

Downtown’s emerging role as a leading destination was underscored this week, when National Geographic Traveler selected Kansas City, Mo. as the only U.S. city or destination on its listing of 28 Best Trips Around the World in the December/January edition.

“Most visitors to this Midwest outpost come for the barbecue and that jazz, but soon find themselves caught up in an urban renaissance,” the magazine reported.

Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co., will deliver the keynote address at the Downtown Council Annual Luncheon next month.

The Destination theme also serves as a platform to showcase an urban hotel boom that is currently unfolding in Downtown, including a 200 percent increase in hotels (from eight in 2015 to 24 by 2020) and an 85 percent increase in rooms (from 3,414 to 6,415), including the $325 million Loews Kansas City Hotel that will open 800 new convention hotel rooms in two years.

The keynote address will be delivered by Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO of New York-based Loews Hotels & Co. Tisch joined city leaders in August, at the official groundbreaking ceremony for the convention hotel.

“Kansas City is a vibrant destination which has experienced significant growth over the past several years,” Tisch told the Downtown Council, as he accepted this speaking invitation. “We look forward to investing in and becoming an integral part of the Downtown community with our new hotel, Loews Kansas City, opening in May of 2020.”

Destination Downtown KC is expected to attract about 1,000 business, civic and philanthropic leaders to celebrate progress and accomplishments; present awards; assess the trajectory of Downtown Kansas City for the long-term; and, embraces the largest urban networking event of the year. The luncheon is set for 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 in the Kay Barnes Ballroom.

Luncheon Highlights

  • Keynote speaker Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO of Loews Hotels & Co., will identify the challenges to maintain or even accelerate the growth of Downtown, and then discuss the challenges ahead.
  • Presentation of the J. Philip Kirk Jr. Award in Recognition of Downtown Stewardship & Community Vision to Kay Waldo Barnes
  • Announcement of the 2018 Urban Hero Awards honoring individuals who impact Downtown on the grassroots level. The Urban Heroes also will be honored during a reception on Wednesday evening, Jan. 23
  • Annual State of Downtown update by William Dietrich, President & CEO of the Downtown Council.
  • Immediately before the luncheon, guests will participate in the Spirit of Downtown KC Exhibit. More than 50 booth spaces will highlight new developments, creative businesses and the arts of Downtown.

The Annual Luncheon will feature three honorary co-chairs, including Tim Dunn, Chief Investment & Treasury Officer, JE Dunn Construction; Jeffrey J. Jones II, President & CEO of H&R Block; and Brenda Tinnen, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Sprint Center.

Luncheon planning chairs are Jerry Riffel, Attorney, Lathrop Gage, who also currently chairs the Downtown Council; Julie Pierce, Vice President / Director of Kansas City Operations, Henderson Engineers; and Nate Orr, Partner, Spencer Fane.

To reserve your space at the luncheon, visit https://www.downtownkc.org/2019-luncheon/  or contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org, or Ashley Broockerd, abroockerd@evenergy.com.

 

Vote YES on Prop D: Safer Roads, Safer Streets

The Downtown Council supports new funding for safer roads and bridges in Missouri, and encourages a YES vote on Prop D. The election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Prop D is a statutory change allowing a 2.5-cent tax increase on gas and diesel annually for four years, resulting in an overall dime-per-gallon motor fuels tax increase. The new funding will provide money to be spent on construction and maintaining safe highways and bridges.

Today’s blog – written by Downtown Council board member Warren Erdman – is designed to explain why the DTC Board of Directors voted to support Prop D in this important election. Vote YES for safer roads and safer streets on Nov. 6.

Proposition D on the November 6 ballot is vitally important to Kansas City and to Missouri.  It would raise the motor fuels tax in Missouri by 2.5 cents per year for four years, and make over $400 million a year available for state and local roads and bridges across Missouri, including $55.3 million in state funds for transportation projects in the Kansas City region and $14 million for local county and municipality transportation projects in our area.

Over its four-year phase-in and when fully implemented, the extra 10 cents per gallon will help fix our roads and bridges, create jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into our local communities for roads and bridges. The new money will allow Missouri to move to the front of the line to return federal tax money we have already paid to Washington, to fix our roads and bridges back home. If we don’t provide the matching money, other states will and receive our money.

Missouri hasn’t raised our state motor fuels user tax since 1996. Inflation has eaten away at this 17 cents tax, which only has 7 cents of purchasing power today. While steel, concrete and asphalt have doubled and tripled in cost over the last 22 years, the state motor fuels user tax has lost 60 percent of its value.

MoDOT has cut overhead spending and has its house in order.  Its leadership is committed to prudent stewardship of this constitutionally protected, regularly audited road and bridge money.

This infrastructure funding is badly needed in Missouri and the Greater Kansas City region to address our transportation infrastructure, highways and bridges.

Missouri Governor Parson, Lieutenant Governor Kehoe and other state leaders across Missouri strongly support this modest, overdue initiative for our highways and bridges.

Kansas City needs to do its part to help pass Proposition D this November.

Please join me in voting YES on Proposition D on November 6.

– Warren Erdman, Kansas City