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.

CID Ambassador Moon receives first Harvey Fried Award

The first Harvey Fried Award was presented to CID Ambassador Daniel Moon, center, by Sean O’Byrne, left, executive director of the CIDs, and Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs. The Fried Award was created in 2018 to honor outstanding service by Community Improvement District ambassadors in Downtown and the River Market.

Daniel Moon has been awarded the 2018 (and first) Harvey Fried Award in recognition of outstanding service by a CID Ambassador.

Moon, 38, has been a Safety Ambassador for 13 of his 14 years working for the Community Improvement Districts.

Harvey Fried

“Daniel is an ideal Ambassador,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs. “He is naturally friendly, happy and has a heart for helping people. He’s just built that way.”

Born in Buford, Georgia, Moon moved to Kansas City when he was 10. He attended Southwest High School, and always had a passion for working Downtown. The Community Improvement District gave him that opportunity in 2004, as a Maintenance Ambassador. A year later, he was promoted to Safety Ambassador.

“While we have many Ambassadors who deserve this award, we are proud to give the first Harvey Fried Award to Daniel Moon,” said Sean O’Byrne, executive director of the CIDs. “Even though Daniel is always friendly and smiling, it doesn’t mean that he can’t get tough when the situation calls for it.”

“I was surprised and honored to win the ‘Harvey’,” Moon said. “I like to keep a smile on my face. And, when you do that, I believe something great is going to happen.”

The new, annual Harvey Fried Award is named for the venerable champion of Downtown Kansas City, who passed away on April 30. Harvey was a community leader and friend of the CIDs. He was a founding board member of the Downtown CID, and served in that role since 2002, including board secretary in 2018.

“Harvey had a special place in his heart for our Ambassadors, and I want them to know his legacy,” O’Byrne said, when he addressed a Celebration of Life for Harvey in late May. “The award will be presented annually in recognition of leadership, esprit de corps, compassion to others, and – above all else – kindness.

“Harvey was a great man. We want to make sure his memory lives on.”

Nourish KC celebrates serving Millionth Meal to homeless

Mayor Sly James congratulates the kitchen staff at NourishKC.

By Kevin Collison, CityScene KC

Eight years after opening in new space at Eighth and The Paseo, NourishKC celebrated serving its millionth meal to the homeless people of Downtown.

Mayor Sly James recognized their charitable work at an event last week, but also used the occasion to call out the broader issue of homelessness and growing economic disparity in the United States.

“I don’t want to celebrate the one millionth meal, there’s nothing to celebrate about serving a million meals to people who need food,” he said. “I want to celebrate you’re doing it.

“I think a better milestone will be when you serve your last meal. We’ve become too calloused in this country to those who are without. Those who are without are multiplying faster than those who have.”

The kitchen and dining room are on the lower level of the Downtown Community Services Center owned and operated by the Downtown Council. The upstairs is occupied by ReStart, an organization that provides housing services, healthcare and counseling to homeless people.

Two local TV stations also aired stories about the Millionth Meal. Take a look at KSHB TV-41 and FOX 4

Sean O’Byrne, vice president of the Downtown Council, said providing social services is part of the broader mission of the organization of Downtown property owners. The organization raised $1.3 million in 2008 to open the center.

“You can’t talk about economic development or a resurgence of Downtown until you address the issue of homelessness in a dignified manner,” O’Byrne said. “Our goal is, when you come for a meal you can come upstairs and talk to somebody about housing, see a doctor or talk to a counselor.”

NourishKC traces its roots to 1983 when it opened as a soup kitchen operated by what was then Episcopal Community Services in the basement of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral at 415 W. 13th St. The operation relocated to 750 Paseo Blvd. in 2010. Last year, Episcopal Family Services was renamed NourishKC.

The NourishKC facility is designed to resemble a comfortable bistro rather than an institutional soup kitchen. It also offers culinary training to help people find lasting jobs.

“Our mission is to build a food secure region,” said spokeswoman Victoria Cherrie.

Meals are served Mondays through Fridays from 7 to 9 a.m., and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. An average of 150,000 people are served each month. And, the program is working to expand its funding base.

“In the past, we were largely funded by foundation grants,” Cherrie said. “We’re trying to build a platform of donors.”

Before his formal remarks, James enjoyed a tour of the NourishKC kitchen where he joked with several of the staff and praised their work.

“A lot of people don’t get the need for this,” he said “I’m glad you get it. You’re making sure people have food. People in need do strange things, sometimes bad things. To the extent you show they’re cared for…God bless you, that’s cool stuff.”

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Two Ambassadors step up to CID leadership roles

CID Ambassadors Art Chatman, left, and Marvin Williams have stepped into leadership roles this summer in the Community Improvement Districts.

The Community Improvement Districts (CID) of Downtown Kansas City have promoted two long-term Ambassadors to supervisor-level positions. Marvin Williams has stepped into the role of Public Maintenance Ambassador Supervisor, while Art Chatman is the new Public Landscape Ambassador Supervisor.

“It’s with great pride that we announce these promotions. This announcement is not only a vote of confidence in Marvin and Art, but also well-deserved by these two role models for the CID Ambassadors,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the CID. “They earned these opportunities the old-fashioned way – through their hard word, integrity and positive attitudes.”

Marvin Williams

Williams has been a CID Ambassador for 11 years. Hired in 2006, he was promoted to Crew Chief in 2008 in charge of the weekend crew.

Williams was introduced to the CID in 2006, when he was looking for a job and putting in applications around the City. One day as he was waited for the bus at the 10th and Main Metro Plex, Williams struck up a conversation with a CID Public Safety Ambassador who was patrolling the bus stop and asked about the Community Improvement Districts. That conversation prompted him to walk across the street and fill out an application. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

“I like how much all of Downtown is progressing since I started in 2006, including the Power & Light District, Sprint Center and the Streetcar,” Williams said. “It’s great to see how the Streetcar has brought so many people to Downtown and the River Market.”

Williams enjoys his work with the CIDs, particularly meeting people and working outdoors.

“I like interacting with people, and helping them find where they need to go,” Williams said. “There’s something about working in the fresh air and the changing of the seasons that makes this job interesting all the time.”

“I’ve never been a lazy person and I have always wanted to do things that make a difference.”

Art Chatman

Art Chatman began his career with the CID as a Public Safety Ambassador in 2005. In 2013,  he was promoted to manage the Downtown Council-run Department of Motor Vehicles office at 615 E. 13th Street for a year. Chatman returned to the DCID as a Safety Ambassador Captain in 2014 and was promoted to Supervisor in 2015 before becoming the CID’s Landscape Supervisor.

Chatman, who was a barber before coming to the CID, still has his barber’s license. “I still cut hair on the side,” Chatman said, “and I’m looking to own my own barber shop someday.”

Chatman says he really likes the family feel of the CID.

“Once you get in with the CID,” he said, “you really don’t want to go anywhere else.” “The only job better than this would be a professional fisherman,” he added.

Chatman is impressed with the revitalization of Downtown and the River Market. he enjoys seeing how they are flourishing and knowing that the small part that he has played as a CID Ambassador to help make it happen.

“It is really hard to remember what it was even like when I first started back in 2005,” Chatman  said.

Click here to learn more about the Downtown and River Market CIDs.




CID Ambassadors: staffing the BIG show(s) in Downtown

Marvin Williams, CID Public Maintenance Ambassador Supervisor, patrols the grounds of Celebration at the Station during the annual Memorial Day weekend event that drew about 50,000 guests.

It may come as no surprise that the Community Improvement District (CID) Ambassadors are charged with providing a strong and comforting presence in the Central Business District and the River Market seven days a week. But did you know they also work that front lines at some of the major events in Downtown?

In just the last few weeks, CID Ambassadors chalked up more than 800 hours of work over three days at two of the summer’s biggest shows over Memorial Day weekend – the Celebration at the Station at Union Station AND the KC Jazz & Heritage Festival at 18th & Vine.

“Memorial Day weekend stretches us quite a bit, but the CID Ambassadors have a long and proud tradition of providing security and trash collection services at the major, holiday weekend attractions,” said Mark Rowlands, CID director.

CID Ambassadors – visible to the right of the stage – delivered public safety and maintenance services throughout the KC Jazz & Heritage Festival over Memorial Day weekend.

Ambassadors have performed their extra duties at Celebration since 2010. They have been a part of the new Jazz & Heritage Festival and previous Rhythm & Ribs jazz festivals since 2011.

Rowlands said the CID “bumble bees” routinely patrol the Central Library, River Market, City Market, and Ride KC and KC Streetcar stops, along with key intersections, streets, parking lots and special events, welcoming more than 75,000 workers, 24,000 residents and 25 million visitors to Downtown each year.

Ambassadors serve as the first point of contact for emergency needs, and help to maintain order and to deter crime through their consistent coverage and visibility. Maintaining valuable partnerships with the Kansas City Missouri Police Department (KCPD) and other law enforcement agencies helps to sustain low crime levels in Downtown.


Safety Escort Service available daily from CID Ambassadors

CID Ambassadors provide free Safety Escort services seven days a week to Downtown workers, residents or visitors.Community Improvement District (CID) Ambassadors are dedicated to providing a strong and comforting presence in the Central Business District and River Market seven days a week.

“The ‘bumble bees’ patrol the Central Library, Ride KC and KC Streetcar stops, the City Market, 18th & Vine, key intersections, streets, parking lots and special events welcoming more than 80,000 workers, 24,000 residents and 25 million visitors every year,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs.

And, they provide personal, safety escort service upon request.

Safety Ambassadors provide assistance through our Safety Escort service by walking residents, employees and visitors in the Downtown area to and from their car and workplace or residence. The CIDs provide this service between the hours of 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

“While the Downtown area is statistically safer in the terms of crimes against individuals than other places in the City, the CID Safety Ambassadors are committed to helping anyone feel more comfortable walking the sidewalks at any time during the day,” Rowlands said.

“Besides, the Ambassadors have outstanding personalities and the conversations are sure to be polite, positive and interesting.”

The CIDs have logged nearly 8,000 Safety Escorts since the Downtown CID was launched in 2003, including nearly 1,600 last year alone.

To request this free public service, call the CID dispatch at 816-421-5243 during office hours, or 816-820-3475 during evenings or early mornings.


CIDs leverage PIAC funds to build & grow healthy neighborhoods

The Downtown and River Market Community Improvement Districts are committed to growing Clean, Safe and Green neighborhoods in Downtown KC.


While Clean & Safe has long been the mantra of the urban Community Improvement Districts, they have been joined in recent years by Green, which represents a commitment to beautifying Downtown and the River Market.

Green takes roots in large and small patches of Kansas City’s urban corridors and is nurtured by the green thumbs of the CID Landscape Ambassadors, who focus their attention on flowers, trees and streetscapes.

The Green initiative – now in its eighth year – is made possible by a partnership with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, which awards Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) funds to the CIDs to make these improvements to the urban landscape.

PIAC has awarded $2.25 million to the DCID and RMCID ($175,000 and $75,000 per year, respectively) over the course of the last eight years to fund these improvements.

“Our Green efforts represent great partnership with the City, a lot of hard work and a complete labor of love for the CID Landscape Ambassadors,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs. “All of the time, money and effort is dedicated to the beautification of Downtown and the River Market for residents, employees and visitors.”

The CID PIAC Scope of Services grid (below) illustrates the volume of improvements made over the years by the Downtown and River Market Landscape Ambassadors:




CIDs add high-tech tools to Ambassadors’ daily rounds

CID Public Safety Ambassador Dominick Trent enters Downtown Daily Log data on his CID-issued smart tablet.

The Downtown Community Improvement District has gone high tech.

Beginning just a few weeks ago, every Safety Ambassador was issued a smart tablet to fill out their Daily Log reports replacing the paper log sheets they have used since the beginning Downtown CID in 2003.

According to Mark Rowlands, director of the CIDs, the technology will allow supervisors and management to review all Ambassadors activities in real time, as well as produce reports faster. The CID Dispatcher will also be able to see where each Ambassador is (while they are on  the clock) to expedite nearby resources to incidents within the District more efficiently.

“We are excited about bringing this technology into the hands of the CID Ambassadors,” Rowlands said. “The tablets will provide more tools for the Ambassadors to use as they patrol the sidewalks, parks and the Streetcar.”

The DCID is partnering with EB Systems, a Kansas City-based company, to design a reporting system that fits the organization’s mission and services. EB Systems is a technology company with expertise in Real-Time Location and reporting, workforce management and automation using their eBeacons mobile app.

The smart tablet system was introduced as a pilot project with the CID Streetcar Ambassadors about six months ago and quickly became a favorite.

In addition, the app has quick access to KCATA bus schedule, KC Streetcar arrivals and the VisitKC website.

For more information on the Community Improvement District, contact Rowlands at or visit the CID website.


CID Ambassadors ride the streetcar rails daily in Downtown

Streetcar Ambassadors (from left) Oscar Palacios, Ciera Edmonds and Avery Williams ride the streetcar daily in their roles as Community Improvement District Ambassadors. 

Ambassadors from the Downtown and River Market Community Improvement Districts (CID) are nearing the first anniversary of staffing the KC Streetcar, as it travels the two-mile route through Downtown seven days a week.

Three full-time CID Ambassadors began riding the streetcar – covering three shifts per day – when the KC Streetcar began operations on May 6, 2016. Since that opening day, the streetcar has drawn nearly 2 million rides from Downtown residents, workers and visitors.

“The Streetcar Ambassadors have been essential to the success of the KC Streetcar in our first year of operations,” said Tom Gerend, streetcar executive director. “They have proven to be great assets to the streetcar, as well as warm and friendly hosts for riders and guests.”

The three-person Streetcar Ambassador staff includes Ciera Edmonds, Oscar Palacios and Avery Williams.

“We are delighted with the partnership between the CIDs and the KC Streetcar Authority,” said Mark Rowlands, CID director. “The streetcars have proven themselves to be very effective at drawing guests to Downtown, and the Ambassadors are demonstrating how to help our guests feel welcome, safe and secure.”

Rowlands explained that Downtown and River Market CIDs are committed to providing a safe environment for the passengers of the Kansas City Streetcar and the surrounding public.

The Ambassadors will definitely be on duty this Saturday, as the KC Streetcar celebrates its first birthday with celebratory events from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Union Station streetcar station. The public is invited to attend, and enjoy free cake, refreshments, games, music and a hands-on truck-a-palooza exhibit for kids. And, of course, an opportunity to ride the streetcar!

The CIDs employ three Ambassadors to patrol active streetcars in order to provide an enjoyable environment. Such services will include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Serving as a friendly, helpful source of information and guidance for passengers regarding local amenities, geography, commercial opportunities, residential communities and history;
  • Identifying and addressing public safety issues on the streetcars and stations;
  • Coordinating communications between the KCSA and its representatives;
  • Identifying and reporting to KCSA public nuisances and maintenance issues; and
  • Graffiti, poster and handbill removal on streetcars and stations

“By providing these services in a polite and courteous manner, we support an atmosphere that allows an enjoyable and safe experience for passengers,” Rowland said. “The is a classic win-win opportunity for the KC Streetcar and the Ambassadors.”




River Market CID elects new board officers

“Safe, Clean, Green” not only describes the mantra of the River Market Community Improvement District (RMCID) Ambassadors, these words also illustrate the foundation of the River Market and Downtown Kansas City.

The RMCID is a private, nonprofit organization that – since 2006 – is dedicated to maintaining a clean, green, safe and economically competitive River Market. The mission of the RMCID is accomplished daily by a team of maintenance, horticulture and safety ambassadors dedicated to the River Market, and its employers, workers, residents and visitors.

The River Market CID celebrated a milestone in 2014-15 with the renewal of the CID for 10 years.

“The renewal was a great win for the River Market and the CID,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the Community Improvement Districts. “This was a tremendous vote of confidence in the services of the CID Ambassadors and to the healthy and vibrant future of the River Market.”

The River Market CID Board of Directors met last week for their annual board meeting. In addition to thanking their outgoing board chair, George Birt,  principal of Downtown Developers, the board approved its new slate of officers for 2015-16. New officers include:

  • Chair: Tim Kruse, River Market resident and assistant vice president at State Street
  • Vice Chair: Jim Potter, Development Initiatives
  • Secretary: Donna Slaughter, Planters Seed Company
  • Treasurer: Deb Churchill, The City Market

The CIDs are managed by the Downtown Council, and are considered to be the cornerstone of the renaissance of Downtown Kansas City.

KC is ranked among the top 10 downtowns in the U.S. by Forbes magazine, which points to a “walkable and livable downtown” – the kind of urban experience that simply wouldn’t be possible without the CIDs and their dedicated “yellow jacket” Ambassadors.

Clean, Safe, Green: CID Ambassadors

Safe. Clean. Green. These three words not only the mantra of the Downtown and River Market Community Improvement District (CID) Ambassadors, they also describe the foundation of Downtown Kansas City.

The CIDs are private, nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to maintaining a clean, green, safe and economically competitive Central Business District (CBD) and River Market. The mission of the CIDs is accomplished daily by a team of maintenance, horticulture and safety ambassadors dedicated to Downtown, and its employers, workers, residents and visitors.

The DCID Board of Directors met earlier this week for their annual board meeting. In addition to thinking their outgoing board chair, Pamela Hahn, 1212 McGee Building, the board approved its new slate of officers for 2015-16. New officers include:

  • Chair: Kathie McBride, MC Realty Group
  • Vice Chair: Mike Klamm, CBRE
  • Secretary: Chris Erdley, Tower Properties
  • Treasurer: Jared Campbell, Signature Personal Insurance

The CIDs are managed by the Downtown Council, and are considered to be the cornerstone of the renaissance of Downtown Kansas City.

KC is ranked among the top 10 downtowns in the U.S., which points to a “walkable and livable downtown” – the kind of urban experience that simply wouldn’t be possible without the CIDs and their dedicated “yellow jacket” Ambassadors.

This blog post introduces a weekly series that will introduce you to the Ambassadors and the remarkable work they perform every day in Downtown KC.



CID, PIAC team up to repair infrastructure in River Market

The City of Kansas City, Missouri and its Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) have built a great and productive great partnership with the River Market Community Improvement District (RMCID).

Since the fall of 2009, RMCID Ambassadors have been repairing River Market infrastructure, thanks to $300,000 in PIAC funding. PIAC dollars are earmarked for a series of projects that can be managed and maintained by the Ambassadors themselves.


Each year, Ambassadors have been repairing subsided pavers, installing new landscaping, repainting fire hydrants and pedestrian light poles, fixing damaged tree wells and purchasing and installing site furnishings such as benches, trash receptacles and above-ground planters. The RMCID is currently in its fifth year making infrastructure improvements to the district.

In the first four years of PIAC support, the $300,000 was used by Ambassadors to:

  • Repair more than 240 square feet of subsided pavers
  • Install about 2,400 square feet of new landscaping
  • Repair 48 damaged tree wells
  • Repaint 48 pedestrian lights
  • Repaint 48 fire hydrants
  • Purchase and install 29 new Streetscape Master Plan-approved trash receptacles
  • Purchase and install 14 new Streetscape Master Plan-approved benches
  • Purchase and install 34 new Streetscape Master Plan-approved above-ground planters

The RMCID Ambassadors have also purchased and installed (XX) decorative tree enclosures on Walnut, Fifth and Delaware streets in the River Market.

“The design of the tree enclosures complements the comfortable atmosphere that the district enjoys. The enclosures were also designed to be easy to install and maintain,” said Mark Rowlands, director of the River Market and Downtown CIDs. “Their simple design enables the RMCID Ambassadors to install the enclosures with just a few tools and minimal disturbance to surrounding infrastructure.”