Rebuttal – ‘Denverization’ is not the problem on Troost

A rendering shows UC-B’s proposed development at Linwood Boulevard and Troost Avenue. COURTESY OF DRAW ARCHITECTURE + URBAN DESIGN LLC

By GIB KERR, special to The Kansas City Star, Dec. 12, 2018

I grew up here in Kansas City, just a few blocks from Troost Avenue. For my entire life, Troost has been an ugly dividing line — both physically and psychologically — between black and white. Politicians, ministers and civic leaders have forever implored employers and developers to invest along the Troost corridor.

For decades, middle-class residents have been abandoning Troost and the urban core for the greener pastures of the suburbs. The population along Troost plummeted. Businesses, churches and schools closed in staggering numbers. The area became a desolate urban wasteland.

Over the last couple years, however, several pioneering developers have made the bold decision to risk their capital and build new apartments along the Troost corridor. We are witnessing some of the first new construction on Troost in our lifetime.

Most exciting of all (to me, at least) is that a new generation is not only willing to move there, but they’re excited to be part of a 21st-century urban environment where black and white Kansas Citians (along with Hispanics, Asians and maybe even millennials who grew up in Johnson County) can all live together without regard to the racial hang-ups that seemed so big to previous generations.

Maybe Kansas City can show America how to heal the wounds that have divided us for too long. These new developments are not just building a bridge across Troost. They are weaving a new urban quilt that earlier generations could never have imagined.

Granted, we have a long, long way to go. But this seems to be a very promising beginning.

So why does The Kansas City Star’s editorial board see only the manure and not the pony in the barn? Its recent editorial rebuking the “Denverization of Kansas City” completely misses the mark.

Yes, we need more affordable housing. But first we need to restore the urban population that we have lost over the last 50 years.

“Gentrification” is the dirty new buzzword among those for whom the perfect is the enemy of the good. In order for our urban core to thrive, we need to increase population density. We need to replace the thousands of residents who moved away, even if some of those new residents are (God forbid) “hipsters” who come from more affluent backgrounds.

I’m pretty sure that the residents moving into new apartment projects along the Troost corridor are not displacing anyone. They are moving into new housing units mostly built on vacant lots.

The economically distressed areas of the city’s East Side are full of thousands of abandoned houses, which are now attracting investors to renovate them — and in the process delivering more affordable housing options.

Jason Segedy, director of planning and urban development for the city of Akron, Ohio, notes that the problem with economically distressed areas is not inequality. The problem is poverty. Too many residents are equally poor.

By introducing a more diverse socioeconomic population, a rising tide will lift all boats. Higher population leads to healthier businesses, schools, churches and a stronger community overall. Remember, we closed more than 20 schools in the Kansas City Public Schools district over the past decade. Imagine what a few thousand new residents could do for our schools.

My observation is that both the developers and their residents along this new urban frontier are keenly sensitive to the cultural legacy of Kansas City’s East Side, which must not only be respected but celebrated. Rather than disparaging the economic progress along Troost, we should encourage its continuation and make Kansas City a model for American urban renewal.

Gib Kerr is a commercial real estate broker focusing on investment sales, with an emphasis on development transactions in Downtown Kansas CityHe served as co-chair of the sell-out Downtown Office Summit meeting for the Downtown Council in October at Crown Center.

Downtown Council, CIDs begin annual Toy & Coat Drive

The Downtown Council and the Community Improvement Districts have kicked off the annual Toy & Coat Drive to benefit the men, women and children served by the Downtown Community Services Center.
This is your opportunity to fill the barrels (several of them!) with new or gently used toys and clothing/coats for those in need in Downtown Kansas City. Collection barrels will be accepting donations at the Downtown Council office, 1000 Walnut, Suite 200 now through Dec. 21.
All donations will be distributed to friends and clients at the Downtown Community Services Center before Christmas.
“Help us to make this year really special for those in need,” said Sean O’Byrne, vice president for business development and executive director of the CIDs. “Thank you for your support.”
To learn more, contact O’Byrne at


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  or contact Ann Holliday,, or Ashley Broockerd,


Natl Geographic Traveler names KC one of the world’s ‘best trips’

Courtesy, The Kansas City Star

“One may wonder what Kansas City has in common with Dakar, Senegal, or Perth, Australia.

It seems they are among must-see destinations for travelers in 2019. That’s according to National Geographic Traveler magazine, which published the list last week in the December-January issue.

Why go now? To “revel in the revival,” the magazine says.

“Most visitors to the Midwestern city come for the barbecue and all that jazz but soon find themselves caught up in an urban renaissance,” according to the piece.

It goes on to tout the “reinvention of the historic Savoy Hotel and Grill as the 21cMuseum Hotel Kansas City and the free downtown streetcar.

The article also encourages visitors to check out the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. It touts the “retro-cool retailers and clubs” of the industrial West Bottoms.

“To me, West Bottoms speaks to the history of Kansas City: the stockyards and trains and commerce moving through the middle of the country,” Chris Goode, CEO and founder of Ruby Jean’s Juicery, told the magazine. “But no matter where you go in Kansas City, it will feel like home. “The city just has soul.”

National Geographic Traveler editor-in-chief George Stone said the Best Trips issue “features 28 destinations and experiences that can inspire us, change our perspectives and connect us with cultures, places and ideas that matter in the world.”

National Geographic travel editors and explorers selected their top destinations in four categories: cities, nature, culture and adventure.

Kansas City is the only American destination on the cities list, which includes Dakar; Perth; Salvador, Brazil; Toronto, Canada; Matera, Italy; and Mexico City. (The magazine specified that it is referring to Kansas City, Mo.)”

Click here to read the complete story.

Holidays Come Alive beginning Saturday at Union Station

The holiday season officially returns to Downtown this weekend, as the Holidays Come Alive at Union Station beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The event is a day-long, free celebration packed with festive entertainment and family activities. It will conclude with a spectacular holiday lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. featuring Kansas City’s largest indoor Christmas tree and a breathtaking performance by Quixotic. All events will be held inside Union Station so there’s no need to bundle up the kids!

“The holidays at Union Station are more than lights,” said George Guastello, president and CEO of Union Station. “What Union Station does for the holidays is what it’s done for over 100 years; Union Station creates memories. We do that by creating holiday experiences you can’t find anywhere else.”

But, never fear, there will be lots of lights at Union Station. There are 25,000 lights on the gorgeous indoor Grand Hall Tree alone! Yards and yards of garland, mammoth wreaths, 70 Christmas trees and more will all be lit inside the Station on Saturday night.

The holiday will really come to life beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with a ceremony that leads into a magical performance designed by the creative genius of Kansas City’s own Quixotic. Inside Grand Plaza, aerialists will fly through the air while magical reindeer, standing eight feet tall, will roam through the crowd leading them on a magical trip to the North Pole. Throughout the performance the interior will be lit in waves, ending with the Union Station ablaze in its holiday glory.

The exterior of the Station will also come alive in a dazzling holiday light show every evening on the half hour. This choreographed display will not only entertain, but also add to the festive illumination of the Downtown skyline.

In addition, there will be plenty of family photo opportunities (think holiday cards!) with larger-than life holiday props and décor, and concessions sold throughout the day. Kiss Under the Clock, a Union Station holiday tradition, returns this year from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with Kelly Urich from 94.9 KCMO Radio and holiday favorite,

National Lampoon’s, Christmas Vacation, will be running on the Regnier Extreme Screen throughout the day for only $3 per person. 


All located in Grand Plaza, unless otherwise notated.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm:  Hands on Activities: Maker Studio & Strawberry Swing Holiday Activity

10:00 am – 4:00 pm:  Mesner Puppets Holiday Activity

10:00 am – 8:00 pm:  Letters to Santa (in Model Rail)

1:00 – 4:30 pm:  Balloon Artist & Sister Act Face Painters

6:00  – 6:30 pm:  Candy Cane Stop with 94.9 
7:00  – 8:30 PM Free Mini Train Rides

7:00 – 9:00 pm:  Holiday Model Rail

Stage Performances

*All located in Grand Plaza, unless otherwise notated.

10 – 10:45 am:  Mrs. Claus Holiday Stories

11:00 – 11:45 am:  KC Ballet 2 Performance

11:30 am – 12:30 pm:  Salvation Army Band

12:30 – 1:15 pm:  Quite Frankly the Band

2:00 – 2:45 pm:  Dan Riggs Big Band

3:15 – 3:30 pm:  Starlight Stars

4:00 – 4:45 pm:  Miller Marley Youth Ballet

5:00 – 6:00 pm:  HARMONIUM

6:30 – 7:00 pm:  Holiday Lighting Ceremony Featuring Quixotic

7:00 – 7:30 pm:  HARMONIUM

Event parking rate of $10 applies.

For a complete list of family friendly events that last all season long, visit

Construction to proceed on Downtown YMCA / Community Center

The Downtown YMCA/Kirk Family Community Center will celebrate the beginning of construction of the former Lyric Theatre building on Friday.

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City will host a Construction Kickoff Celebration for the new Downtown YMCA/Kirk Family Community Center this Friday.

Donors, volunteers, members and the community are invited to gather at a special celebration at 11:15 a.m. Friday on the front steps of the former Lyric Theatre building at 1029 Central St.

The event will include a ceremony to commemorate the redevelopment of the 92-year-old building and illustrate bringing healthy living, youth and community programs to Downtown Kansas City. The new Y will bring important programs to the families and commuters in the heart of Downtown for the first time, including a medical clinic, swim lessons, healthy living classes for children and adults, community events, and opportunities for people of all ages to improve quality of life.

“The new Y builds on the success of Kansas City’s Downtown revitalization, and will bring much-needed community programs to this diverse and growing community,” said David Byrd, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. “This is a new chapter in history for our Y and for Kansas City as we transform the historic Lyric Theatre building into a community center that will benefit generations for years to come. We are so grateful to all of our donors and partners for their support to make this project possible.”

The $35-million renovation and reconstruction project is expected to be completed by spring of 2021. It’s funded by $16.9 million from the 11th Street Corridor Tax Increment Financing District, additional funding from the Missouri Development Finance Board, as well as charitable gifts from foundations and individual donors.

The Y will be named the Kirk Family Community Center. The Kirks are longtime YMCA of Greater Kansas City donors and supporters of the new Downtown Y. The family includes the late Phil Kirk, the former chairman of DST Realty, now part of SS&C Technologies. He played a key role in Kansas City’s Downtown revitalization and was instrumental in bringing the new Y to the former Lyric Theatre.

The Downtown Council honors Kirk’s strength and leadership each year by awarding its Philip J. Kirk Jr. Award to a community leader in recognition of community vision and Downtown stewardship. The Kirk Award will be presented to former Mayor Kay Barnes at the next DTC Annual Luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019.

Other donors to the Downtown Y/Kirk Family Community Center include the Sunderland Foundation; Tom and Jean McDonnell; Illig Family Foundation; William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank, Trustee; The Kirk Foundation Trust; SS&C Technologies; Victor Speas Foundation, US Trust, Bank of America Corporation; Gary Dickinson Family Charitable Foundation; Kansas City Southern; Mabee Foundation; Dunn Family Foundation; UMB Trusts & Foundations: Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation; Jim and Annabelle Nutter Family; Sherman Foundation; KCP&L; Frank and Nancy Kirk; Mark One Electric; Tom and Jill McGee; Natalie Kirk Welch and J.C. Welch; Allen and Libby Blair; Charles and Judy Kahn; and Ron and Nancy Jones.

Features of the 62,000-square-foot Downtown YMCA/Kirk Family Community Center:

  • Preservation of the facade and lobby of the historic building including the original marble floors, ceiling tiles and more to become the new Y entrance.
  • A 42,000-square-foot section of new construction built on the north side of the lobby featuring a contemporary design. Behind the building, there will be a small green space for events and youth sports.
  • Dramatic two-story windows will be inserted into the new limestone walls along Central bringing natural light into the space and creating a contemporary, eye-catching look to the building’s exterior. The limestone will come from the same quarry that provided the limestone for the original Lyric building.\

Amenities inside the new Downtown YMCA/Kirk Family Community Center:

  • Three community rooms to give members and the community the opportunity to host meetings, celebrations of family and friends, and more. One of the community rooms will feature a teaching kitchen for healthy eating, nutrition and cooking classes.
  • A Kids Zone constructed near the entrance that will provide a safe and fun place for kids to learn and play.
  • An indoor family pool and lap pool to bring year-round life-saving swim lessons, exercise and recreational opportunities to families downtown for the first time.
  • An enclosed wood-floor gymnasium that can be used for basketball, volleyball, and other youth and adult sports.
  • A large health and wellness area offers a space for guests to improve their health through cardiovascular exercise and strength training featuring the latest state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Three studios for group exercise.
  • A suspended indoor walking and jogging track that will offer views of the lower levels of the center.

Truman Medical Center to offer a medical clinic at the new Downtown Y

The YMCA and Truman Medical Center will team up to offer a medical clinic at the Downtown Y. The two organizations first partnered to open TMC’s University Health Clinic adjoining the Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter, Sr. Community Center in February 2018.
The Linwood Y partnership has already proven that working together toward a common vision and mission can improve community health at a time when chronic disease is rising and access to quality health care remains a challenge for many.
The Downtown clinic will make health care more accessible to Y members, as well as those in the surrounding area.
“It is part of our mission to get out of the four walls of the hospital and bring health care where it’s needed,” said Charlie Shields, president and CEO of Truman Medical Center. “We are excited about the construction of this new University Health clinic, because it’s in the right place, at the right time. The power of our combined services will make a great impact on the area’s health and wellness.”
TMC’s University Health Clinic is planned for the lower levels of the building. TMC also will partner with Cerner to bring advanced technology to the patient experience at the clinic.
“Bringing this Y and medical clinic to Downtown is truly a game changer and an important milestone for the Kansas City community,” said CiCi Rojas, chief volunteer officer for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.
“We look forward to the completion of this project so that the Y may impact more lives for the better,” Rojas said. “There are still opportunities to give. The new Y will allow us to meet the changing needs of the community as more young professionals, families and empty-nesters call Downtown home, and will serve as a destination for the entire metro.”
Design and construction partners include BNIM Architects, JE Dunn Construction, Structural Engineering Associates, Henderson Engineers, Antella, Taliaferro & Browne, New Horizons, Land3 Studio, Larkin and FSC.
Development partners include Broadway Square Partners, the Downtown Council and MC Realty.
Financing partners include Sun Trust Bank, Industrial Development Authority of the City of Kansas City Missouri, and Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority.
To read more about the Downtown Y/Kirk Community Center announcement, visit CityScene KC.

Amistice Commemoration continues through Sunday

The National WWI Museum and Memorial will continue to capture the world’s attention this weekend with a flurry of activities to commemorate the centennial of the World War I Armistice on Sunday.

Highlights include Peace and Remembrance, the spectacular illumination of America’s official World War I Memorial that began last Friday and continues through Armistice Day on Sunday in recognition of the 9 million soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War.

Comprised of nearly 55 million pixels to cover the Memorial with red poppies – a traditional symbol for commemorating military personnel who died inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Field.” Peace and Remembrance is viewable from a significant distance.

From today (Friday) through Sunday, admission to the Museum and Memorial is free for veterans and active-duty military personnel; general admission for the public is half-price.

On Sunday, Nov. 11, the multi-national Armistice Commemoration Ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Museum’s Memorial Courtyard. Free to the public, this special ceremony features moving readings of letters from soldiers, poetry, musical performances and more.

Armistice Commemoration – Friday to Sunday, Nov. 9-11

Reflections of Hope: Armistice 1918

When: All Day through Sunday, Nov. 11
Where: Reflection Pool outside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What: Artist Ada Koch’s moving installation features 117 intricate metal poppy sculptures in a symbolic arrangement. Each poppy represents 1,000 American soldiers killed during the Great War.

Peace and Remembrance

When: Friday-Sunday, Nov. 9-11 (6 p.m.-1 a.m.)
Where: North Lawn outside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What: The official WWI Memorial of the United States will be illuminated with a nearly 55 million pixel, 800,000 lumens display featuring more than 5,000 poppies each evening with a massive and moving light installation. Every 15 minutes, special presentations of images, footage and details about World War I will appear. The public is welcome to view the illumination from the grounds of the Museum and Memorial with the North Lawn being the best viewing location. Parking is available in the Museum and Memorial lots as well as along Kessler Road. In the event of inclement weather, the illumination will pause until the weather clears.

World War I Research Stations:

When: All Day, Friday-Sunday, Nov. 9-11
Where: Outside J.C. Nichols Auditorium Lobby inside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What: Find your connection to World War I during Memorial Day weekend through research stations. With access to multiple databases including,,, the Museum and Memorial’s online collections database, the American Battlefield Monuments Commission and the National Archives, discover how the Great War affected your family through records, photographs and much more. FREE to the public.

Vehicle Donation to Combat-Wounded Veteran:

When: 2 p.m. today (Friday, Nov. 9)
Where: South Lawn outside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What: Join Robert Brogden Buick GMC, Wells Fargo and Military Warriors Support Foundation for a special payment-free vehicle presentation to retired U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Steven Wacker. FREE to the public

Craft Your Own Poppy:

When: 10 a.m. -Noon, Saturday, Nov. 10
Where: J.C. Nichols Auditorium Lobby inside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What:Commemorate the Armistice by creating your own felt poppy pin or ornament in this family-friendly craft experience. FREE to the public.

Hands-on History:

When: 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 10
Where: Near Paul Sunderland Glass Bridge inside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What: History is brought to life during this family-friendly program, where kids of all ages are invited to handle Great War artifacts. FREE to the public.

Armistice Ceremony:

When: 9:30 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 11
Where: Memorial Courtyard outside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What: Join us for a commemoration of the Armistice of 1918 featuring representatives from more than 10 nations around the world, moving readings of poems and letters from soldiers, musical performances and more. FREE to the public.

Bells of Peace:

When: 10:55 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 11
Where: Memorial Courtyard outside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What: Exactly 100 years after fighting ceased in Europe, organizations across the globe participate in a traditional bell tolling to commemorate this momentous event. Those unable to attend the ceremony are also invited to toll bells at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 to honor those who served. Collectively, the sound of bells represent this incredible moment of peace. The bell used for this ceremony was originally located at one of the federal buildings in downtown Kansas City and was rung daily by the Daughters of the American Revolution during U.S. involvement in WWI (1917-1918). It was also tolled 11 times at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1926 during the dedication ceremony of the Liberty Memorial.FREE to the public.

Walk of Honor Dedication Ceremony:

When: 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 11
Where: J.C. Nichols Auditorium inside the National WWI Museum and Memorial
What: More than 100 new Walk of Honor granite bricks will be dedicated during a special ceremony. The Walk of Honor, now more than 11,000 bricks strong, is divided into three sections: bricks dedicated solely to those who served in World War I; bricks dedicated to veterans of any military service; and bricks that honor civilian friends, family or organizations. Walk of Honor bricks are dedicated twice each year during Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. FREE to the public.

Special Exhibitions

For Liberty: American Jewish Experience in WWI

Where: Wylie Gallery
What: Hailed as “remarkably prescient” by the New York Times, this special exhibition examines the American Jewish battlefield and homefront participation through a series of remarkable stories and objects. Featured items including Irving Berlin’s draft registration card and the handwritten draft of the Balfour Declaration, which eventually paved the way for the establishment of the Jewish state. Closes Sunday, Nov. 11.

Diggers and Doughboys: The Art of Allies 100 Years On

Where: Memory Hall
What: Australian and American troops fought side-by-side for the first time in July 1918 during World War I. Since then, the Diggers (Australians) and Doughboys (Americans) supported each other in every major military conflict, including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. This exhibition features incredible artwork from the Australian War Memorial Collection illustrating the unique comradeship between the two countries.

The World Remembers

Where: Main Gallery
What: The World Remembers is an international education project whose purpose is to remember and honor these combatants who perished during each year of the war by displaying their names in more than 75 locations throughout Europe and North America for a period of eight weeks ending with the Western Front Armistice Day of Nov. 11. Closes Sunday, Nov. 11.

War Around Us: Soldier Artist Impressions

Where: Ellis Gallery
What: Creating art when surrounded by war seems contradictory. Artists Jean Lefort, Curtiney George Foote, Charles Thatcher Shellabarger, Myron Chapin and Jean Berne-Bellecour demonstrate several ways one can capture wartime experiences using the fields, villages, and people who witnessed the devastation of WWI. Closes Jan. 13, 2019.

Crucible: Life & Death in 1918

Where: Exhibit Hall
What: For the Doughboys on the Western Front, 1918 was their year. It was the crucible where the American land forces forged their fighting force. They fought alongside their main allies from Cantigny to Belleau Wood to the Champagne Region, the Piave River to the Marne to St. Mihiel to the Meuse Argonne to Vladivostok. This exhibition is not an illustration or timeline of how the 1918 battles were fought, rather it focuses on individuals and their lives and deaths in the crucible of 1918. Closes March 10, 2019.

Armistice Day Weekend Hours and Parking

The National WWI Museum and Memorial will be open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday-Saturday and from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. To accommodate expected high Armistice Day Weekend attendance, additional parking will be available on the Southeast lawn of the complex (weather permitting).

The United States World War One Centennial Commission is the presenting sponsor of the Museum and Memorial’s Armistice Commemoration activities with Pioneer Services serving as the premier sponsor and Jackson County Executive and Legislature, the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund of Kansas City, Mo., and Wells Fargo providing additional support.

Click here for a complete list of Armistice Commemoration Activities.

Office Summit program illustrates opportunities in Downtown

A slide of potential Downtown office development sites was presented by Gib Kerr of Cushman & Wakefield and Mike Klamm of CBRE.

Courtesy of Kevin Collison, CityScene KC

Lack of a big chunk of premier, new office space likely cost Downtown Kansas City a major Starbucks operation with 900 jobs last summer, and how to address that challenge was the focus recently of the second annual Downtown Office Summit.

Mayor Sly James kicked off the Oct. 17th summit – organized by the Downtown Council – by citing the accomplishments of recent years in revitalizing Downtown.

“We’re building cities for the future, for our kids,” he told the sold-out audience of more than 250 people at the BNIM offices in Crown Center. “One key is our ability to attract talent. People go where they want to live and Kansas City is moving up that chart at an extremely rapid pace. We are a city on the rise and people are taking notice.”

But while Downtown has benefited greatly from a boom in apartment, hotel, entertainment and restaurant investment in recent years, office development continues to lag. The last big new office building to go up here was the H&R Block building in 2006 and it was done for its namesake tenant.

Craig Slawson (left) of Epoch Development and Vincent Bryant of 3D Development were among the Office Summit developers’ panelists to present to a full house audience at BNIM last month.

“Starbucks representatives were “blown away by how cool (Downtown) Kansas City was and what’s happening here” and was runner-up in the firm’s extensive national search, according to Tim Cowden, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council.

But Starbucks needed 100,000 square feet of Class A space relatively quickly, and it would take 18 to 24 months to build it in Downtown KC. Starbucks went to Atlanta instead, where there’s already “four- to five cranes in the air.”

Members of the Office Summit development panel said Downtown is ripe for new office construction, pointing to a steady decline in vacancy rates, but differed on just how soon and how big the next wave of activity will be.

Vince Bryant, whose 3D Development firm partnered with Copaken Brooks on the most recent big office project, the renovation of the 10-story Corrigan Station building, believes Downtown should be adding 700,000 square feet of office space annually just to keep up with the residential boom.

Instead, about 700,000 square feet has been done in the past four to five years. Bryant is currently pursuing the redevelopment of the historic Kansas City Star building, a 275,000 square-foot project.

“There hasn’t been a new spec office building built Downtown since 1987 and that’s something we ought to figure out how to change,” Bryant said. “I view the Downtown market as having its historical stock drying up, most buildings have been renovated. The next phase is new construction.”


The growth of co-working office space downtown was highlighted, another 100,000 square feet is anticipated.

The biggest new downtown office project in the works currently is being planned by Platform Ventures on a site across from Barney Allis Plaza at 13th and Wyandotte. An earlier concept called for 70,000 square feet, but Terry Anderson of Platform said it could grow up to 120,000 square feet.

“We’re very optimistic,” Anderson said.

The kind of big skyscrapers that were built however in the 1980s and 1990s, such as One Kansas City Place and the Town Pavilion, are problematic.

Tim Schaeffer, president of AREA Real Estate Advisors, said lenders are much more strict now, and demand 40 to 50 percent of buildings be pre-leased before providing financing.

“I don’t believe the confidence is there yet for lenders to say ‘let’s do this,’” Schaeffer said.

Developers estimated it would take rents of $34-$35 per square foot to spur new construction. Currently, rates at Corrigan Station, one of Downtown’s premier  addresses, are in the $25- to $30 range, Bryant said.

Development attorney Jerry Riffel, another panelist, said it will require some boldness to change the Downtown office status quo.

“Somebody is going to have to jump out,” he said. “We’ve got something to sell and good locations, we need to talk about being proactive.”

Bryant suggested a proposed River Market office site controlled by the Kansas City Area Development Authority at Third and Grand could have been ideal for Starbucks—if development of a parking garage had been underway.

“Third and Grand would have been a perfect location for them,” he said.

“If that garage project was a year ahead of schedule, they might have waited 12 or 18 months knowing it was the ideal building they wanted.”

The Downtown office vacancy rate has been declining in recent years.


Schaeffer observed that Downtown Kansas City always has been a more affordable place for firms on either Coast, but until recently didn’t have the quality of life to close the deal.

“Now we have a cool city where young people want to stay and live, our city is entirely different from what I could have envisioned 10 years ago,” he said.

As to where a sizable new office project might occur next, Schaeffer believes property controlled mostly by Copaken Brooks west of Broadway between Southwest Boulevard and I-670 would be attractive because its eligible for hefty federal tax breaks.

Anderson was skeptical about the prospects for high-rise construction within the Downtown Loop, saying a more modest, 50,000 to 75,000 square foot project could occur in the Crossroads or East Village areas.

But Riffel was bullish on going big.

“The next high-rise is more likely to be in the Power & Light District,” he said. “I think there will be one.”

And panelist Stacy Paine, CEO of Crown Center Redevelopment, said vacant property her firm recently offered for development along 27th Street between Grand and Main is ripe for something larger.

“It’s right along the streetcar and walkable from new apartments and Crown Center,” she said. “I think it will be bigger than 50,000 or 60,000 square feet.”

Bryant added, “We’re all rooting for new construction and new office because that pulls the price point up to $34-$35.”

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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

Armistice Commemoration to light up WWI Memorial – Nov. 2-11

Commemorate the Armistice

Firing on the First World War’s Western Front ended on Nov. 11, 1918. This year marks 100 years since the stillness fell across the battlefields of Europe on the “the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.”

To commemorate the end of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized Nov. 11 as Armistice Day – a day of somber remembrance recognized around the world, with many stopping for a moment of silence at the 11th hour of this day to honor those who brought about the end of the “Great War.”

The National WWI Museum and Memorial will capture the world’s attention with activities to commemorate the end of the war, beginning Nov. 1 through the centennial of the World War I Armistice on Nov. 11.

Highlights will include Peace and Remembrance, a spectacular illumination of America’s official World War I Memorial, beginning at 7 p.m. today (Friday, Nov. 2). The lighting display will continue for nine consecutive evenings leading up to Armistice Day on Sunday, Nov. 11 to recognize the 9 million soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War.

Comprised of nearly 55 million pixels to cover the Memorial with red poppies – a traditional symbol for commemorating military personnel who died inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Field.”

From Friday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 11, admission to the Museum and Memorial is free for veterans and active-duty military personnel; general admission for the public is half-price.

On Sunday, Nov. 11, the Museum and Memorial hosts a multi-national Armistice Commemoration Ceremony beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Museum’s Memorial Courtyard. Free to the public, this special ceremony features moving readings of letters from soldiers, poetry, musical performances and more.

The United States World War One Centennial Commission is the presenting sponsor of the Museum and Memorial’s Armistice Commemoration activities with Pioneer Services serving as the premier sponsor and Jackson County Executive and Legislature, the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund of Kansas City, Mo., and Wells Fargo providing additional support.

Click here for a complete list of Armistice Commemoration Activities.

About the National WWI Museum and Memorial

The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum and Memorial holds the most comprehensive collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war. To learn more, visit

Box Gallery pairs writers & artists for a creative challenge

The Box Gallery is taking a creative turn with its new exhibition – Ekphrasis – that opens on Friday in the Commerce Arcade, 1000 Walnut.

The title of the exhibit was inspired by the Greek word, Ekphrasis, defined as a literary description of, or commentary on, a visual work of art.  The exhibit’s goal is to bring together regional artists and writers and challenge them to create new visual or literary art inspired by a specific work.

The free exhibit goes on display Friday, Nov. 2 and continues through Jan. 24, 2019. And, the public is invited to a free, opening reception is set for 6-8 p.m. Friday.

Some 20 writers and 20 artists from Missouri and Kansas were invited, via a jury process, to be part of the exhibit and to create a new work of art or writing inspired by one of the other’s original submissions. For example, a poet is given a painting and asked to use it as inspiration to write a new poem, while a painter or sculptor is given a poem and asked to use it as inspiration to create a new artwork.

Each artist and writer was blindly assigned to another person’s work. Neither the artists nor the writers know with whom they have been paired and will meet for the first time at the opening reception, when the exhibit reveals how each read the other’s work.

The show at The Box Gallery will consist of 40 works, made up of 20 pairs encompassing poetry, prose and visual art in a range of media.

“Interpretation of the arts is a subjective process,” said Robin Trafton, Box Gallery director. “This exhibit facilitates conversations between strangers and encourages them to connect, even if they see the world differently. We hope that visitors will enjoy comparing their own interpretations to those of the artists and writers.”

The exhibit is organized and curated by Diana Moxon, owner of Yocto Arts, LLC.  Moxon was the executive director of the Columbia Art League for 11 years and brought the exhibition concept to KC after successfully hosting a similar exhibit, entitled ‘Interpretations’ in Columbia, Missouri.

“We had 68 artists and 65 writers submit work to be considered for this exhibit.  Our two panels of jurors had a challenging time selecting only 20 of each for the show. It is evidence that there is a deep pool of talent here in the Midwest,” Moxon stated.

The Box Gallery is located in the Commerce Bank Building, 1000 Walnut, Suite 211.  It is always free and open to the public Monday-Friday 8:00am- 8:00pm.  Free parking validation is available at the security office.

Vote YES for the Kansas City Public Library

The Downtown Council supports the Kansas City Public Library’s campaign for voters to authorize an 8-cent increase in the property tax based operating levy – the first such request in 22 years – to maintain and modernize facilities and sustain and enhance essential services. The election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Today’s blog post is designed to explain the challenges faced by our libraries and why the DTC Board of Directors voted to support the Kansas City Public Library in this important election. Vote YES for your libraries on Nov. 6.

Single and a mother of four, working but apprehensive about her prospects of moving up, Theresa Hill set her sights at age 36 on getting the high school diploma she didn’t have.

It wouldn’t be easy. Too many alternative programs didn’t fit her work- and kid-packed schedule. Hill managed to complete one course of study, only to discover it wasn’t accredited.

She finally found an answer at the Kansas City Public Library, one of a number of libraries nationwide offering free enrollment in the flexible, self-paced Career Online High School. Hill looked into it, and “I just knew that this was the best fit for me,” she says. She’s now advancing toward a diploma, with plans to move on to college.

Theresa Hill discovered the Library’s Career Online High School while seeking options to continue her education in a way that fit with her busy schedule as a working mother. When she found the program, “I knew it was the right fit for me.”

She underscores the far-reaching role that the Library plays in the community – and the reason it is asking voters next week for an 8-cent increase in its property tax-based levy. The Library’s menu of programs and services, and public demand for­ them, continue to expand. Revenues have not.

Serving the community

Walk through any of the Kansas City Public Library’s 10 locations and, yes, you’ll see patrons browsing stacks of books and picking the brains of reference librarians. Traditional stuff, and still essential. But you’ll find many others searching for work on Library computers or using the Downtown Central Library’s business center to plot a startup. Students get live online help with homework. Residents near L.H. Bluford Branch at 31st and Prospect sweat through fitness classes. Outreach librarians fan out to preschools, childcare centers and senior living communities.

The Library last year offered more than 31,000 classes, peer learning groups and other training sessions to help people enhance their computer skills. Its evening speaking presentations, civic forums and other signature events, plus a rotation of exhibits through its two art galleries, drew nearly 103,000 attendees and visitors. All told, it counted more than 4 million in-person and digital visits.

Meanwhile, the Library levy has remained unchanged for more than two decades. The approved rate of 50 cents per $100 of assessed valuation was approved in 1996, and Missouri’s Hancock Amendment has nudged that downward year to year. Tax increment financing and other abatements in Kansas City have cut deeper: approximately $30 million over the past decade.

The proposed levy increase would just about cover that latter bite, generating an additional $2.8 million annually.

 About the Library Question

Approval of the November 6 measure would allow the Library to meet the growing demand for its services, as well as take care of facilities that are largely a quarter of a century old and behind on maintenance and renovation. Without the levy increase, Library Director Crosby Kemper says it will have to make some difficult decisions potentially affecting the level of services and maintenance of facilities.

The Kansas City Star has endorsed the proposed increase, calling it “long overdue.” Kemper notes, too, that the Library levy is not a single-use tax. It’s applied to a wide array of needs, touching a significant number of lives in the community. And the increase would be a modest one.

For the owner of a home with a market value of $139,000 – roughly the median in Kansas City – an 8-cent levy increase would mean an additional $1.76 a month in property taxes. The owner of a $75,000 home would pay less than an additional dollar a month.

“The modest increase in the Library’s levy – less than 1 percent of your current property tax bill – will allow us to maintain and expand services that are central to so many lives and life activities in our community,” Kemper says. “The 25 percent of our population who have no connection to the internet, the 70% of children in the Kansas City School District who can’t go online at home, the young men and women looking for help to find and apply for a job, the homebound seniors needing free book delivery – for them and so many others, the Library is a harbor. It’s essential. And it is essential that we can continue to meet their needs.”

Further reading