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. 

DAY OF ACTIVITIES – Saturday

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 www.unionstation.org/holidays

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, Fold3.com, Ancestry.com, 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.”

Don’t miss any Downtown news, sign up for the weekly CityScene KC email review here.

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 theworldwar.org.

KC Streetcar marks its 5 millionth ride in 28 months

The KC Streetcar recorded its 5 millionth ride last weekend in its first 28 months of services to Downtown KC.

The KC Streetcar logged its 5 millionth ride last weekend, as Downtown Kansas City was flying high with activities and events. This milestone was reached in less than 2 ½ years of service, since the streetcar became operational in May 2016.

In its 28 months of operations, the KC Streetcar has traveled 305,128 miles with a daily ridership average of 5,806. Each streetcar averaged 76,282 miles and 34,673 trips per vehicle. The summer months tend to be the busiest for streetcar ridership, with July 2018 being the highest ridership month to date with 262,593 total rides, that’s an increase in 31,000 rides from the previous July, according to Donna Mandelbaum, communications director for the KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA).

The highest ridership day to date was July 6, 2018, with 19,181 total rides.

Ridership is important but so is safety and reliability. The KC Streetcar has an average on-time performance of nearly 95 percent and an employee safety record of 863 total days injury free. The KCSA monitors and tracks daily ridership on board the KC Streetcar.

Streetcar ridership, otherwise known as “Unlinked Passenger Trips”, is the national standard used by the Federal Transit Administration for calculating usage on public transportation systems across the county.

KC Streetcar ridership is calculated by Automated Passenger Counters located over each door of each streetcar vehicle. Passengers are counted each time they board vehicles no matter how many vehicles they use to travel from their origin to their destination.

More information about KC Streetcar ridership can be found http://kcstreetcar.org/ridership.

As response to the demand in ridership, the KC Streetcar Authority ordered two more streetcar vehicles for the Downtown route. Those vehicles should arrive in 2019. Later this year, streetcar shelters will be installed at the North Loop stops at 7th and Main Street as a direct response to ridership in that area.

Additionally, the KC Streetcar Authority, along with the City of Kansas City, the KC Area Transportation Authority and Port KC, are planning for future streetcar extensions north towards Berkley Riverfront, as well as the Main Street Extension to UMKC.

 

Construction to begin on Downtown portion of Prospect MAX

Future Prospect Avenue MAX stations will feature an interactive smart kiosk, real-time bus arrival information, shelter protection from the elements and enhanced lighting for improved safety and greater visibility.

Construction is set to begin next week on the Downtown portion of the Prospect MAX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, the Kansas City Regional Transit Authority announced today.

The $55.8 million project will bring enhanced transit service along Kansas City’s 10-mile Prospect Avenue corridor from Downtown to 75th Street. The Downtown portion of the project includes construction of transit facilities at 12th Street and Grand Boulevard and at Petticoat Lane & Main Street.

Work is expected to begin Monday, Aug. 27 at 12th & Grand and on Monday, Sept. 10 at Petticoat & Main. Construction at both locations is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.

Downtown bus stops will be temporarily relocated during construction:

  • Eastbound 12th at Grand boarding will move to 12th at McGee Street
  • Northbound Grand at 12th boarding will move south, closer to 13th Street
  • Westbound 11th at Petticoat boarding will move east, closer to Walnut Street

No disruption to bus routes is expected. Pedestrians are encouraged to follow the signs showing safe walking paths around construction to the temporary bus stops.

Once complete, the Downtown transit facilities will offer:

  • Improved pedestrian sidewalks
  • Level boarding MAX platforms for quicker boarding
  • Snow-ice melt system for platforms
  • Real-time arrivals on interactive kiosks
  • Bike parking
  • Modified bike lane on Grand to improve safety for cyclists
  • Ticket vending machine to speed boarding at 12th & Grand
  • More compact shelter design to allow more space for pedestrians at Petticoat and Main

Reducing bicycle-bus conflicts at 12th & Grand is a priority for the project. A “floating bus stop” will be installed with bicycle traffic flowing behind the bus shelter. It will be the first time this type of design will be implemented in Kansas City.

“KCATA and the City of Kansas City, MO, worked diligently to develop a design that is safer for all users,” KCATA President and CEO Robbie Makinen said. “It’s an improvement for transit users, pedestrians and cyclists. We’re excited to be making these much-needed improvements to Downtown.

“We hope it becomes a model for future bicycle-transit collaboration.”

MAX is RideKC’s brand for Bus Rapid Transit. KCATA operates two MAX BRT lines: Main MAX (opened 2005) and Troost MAX (opened 2011). Prospect MAX is projected to be complete in fall 2019.

Downtown welcomes Crossroads Preparatory Academy High School

Crossroads Preparatory Academy Principal Kirsten Brown (left) and Dean Johnson (right), Crossroads Charter Schools Executive Director, address the audience of Downtown stakeholders on Monday evening, as they prepare to cut the ribbon on the permanent home for the senior high school.

The Crossroads Charter Schools celebrated the opening its newest facility on Monday with a ribbon-cutting and tours of the permanent home of Crossroads Preparatory Academy at 816 Broadway.

Located in the heart of the Kansas City’s Garment District, the Historic Thayer Building is now home to nearly 200, 7th through 10th graders. It is expected to grow to serve 600, 7th to 12th graders by 2025.

“The passion the Crossroads Preparatory Academy (CPA) staff and scholars bring to this historic building is both exciting and contagious,” said Kirsten Brown, CPA principal. “

Teachers, parents and community members are eager to collaboratively transform the secondary educational experience and outcomes for the scholars of Kansas City through the work that will be done at CPA.”

Crossroads announced it would locate CPA in the Historic Thayer Building in February of this year. Since then, phase one of the building renovation has been completed, including unique learning spaces for 7th and 8th graders on one level and 9th and 10th graders on another. Future phases of the building renovation will include spaces for visual and performing arts, STEM labs, “maker spaces” and other common spaces within the building and construction of a gymnasium on the vacant land at 9th and Washington Streets.

“We partnered with MC Realty, BNIM Architects and Turner Construction on this project,” said Dean Johnson, executive director of Crossroads Charter Schools. “Through that partnership we’ve been able to achieve our goal of creating a space where all of our students could embrace and live out our core values of high expectations, authentic learning, creative culture and educational equity.”

With the opening of the permanent home for CPA, Johnson said Crossroads is also seeking other partnerships that further its core values.

One of those is the Crossroads Community Collaborative, an innovative community partnership that prepares students for real-world experiences. The Collaborative will supply talent to local businesses and organizations by providing integrated learning opportunities and equipping students with employable skills.

“Far too often skills in schools are taught in isolation and students are graduating without having the authentic experiences that demonstrate the connection between what they learn in the classroom to what they need in real life,” said Tysie McDowell-Ray, chief academic officer at Crossroads Charter Schools. “This Collaborative provides a solution to this problem and enhances the workforce by allowing our students to give back to their communities by solving real problems and completing real projects that meet industry needs.”

There are five different Partner Levels through which organizations can join the Collaborative, including Industry Mentor, Career Host and Project Supervisor. For more information about the Collaborative or to sign up email jgreason@crossroadsschoolskc.org.

About Crossroads Charter Schools

Crossroads Charter Schools is a network of three schools, which offers a dynamic K-12 education in the heart of Downtown Kansas City: Crossroads Academy – Central Street (K-6); Crossroads Academy – Quality Hill (K-5): and Crossroads Preparatory Academy (7-12). Currently serving nearly 800 students, Crossroads Charter Schools offer a unique model that emphasizes community engagement and 21st Century Learning. More information about Crossroads Charter Schools is available at crossroadsschoolskc.org.

Sit back, relax and celebrate 816 Day on Thursday, 8/16

Downtown Kansas City will celebrate 816Day – a “holiday” inspired by Kansas City’s area code to celebrate civic pride and everything that’s great about KC next Thursday, Aug. 16. Yep, 8/16 is 816Day.

“The goal for 816Day is to connect people with our local businesses, service industries and artistic & cultural organizations,” said Jared Campbell, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and a leading organizer of the event.

Locals and visitors are invited to celebrate and appreciate the best of what local businesses and organizations have to offer during 816Day branded events – oftentimes, happy hours or food/drinks specials on Aug. 16. Early examples of participating organizations include:

  • KC Streetcar will participate in several 816Day events next Thursday, including a local sketch artist drawing portraits of riders – along with the streetcar and Downtown scenes – from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • John’s Big Deck, 928 Wyandotte, will be a featured 816Day party location from 5-11 p.m. with a DJ, food and drink specials, and local goodies and giveaways, including concert tickets.
  • The City Market will feature a free ’90s themed 816 Day concert featuring ThunderJacket from 5:30-730 p.m., along with an 816Day party at Brown & Loe, featuring beer, wine, water and a signature 816 Day cocktail specials.

City Market businesses are also being asked to set up a presence during the concert to help promote themselves and Kansas City.

Campbell also issued an invitation for Downtown restaurants, bars, coffee shops, retailers and destinations to participate in 816Day by providing KC-themed specials on local goods and services, live music, great food, nightlife and entertainment:

What?: How your business can take part in 816DAY?

  • Restaurants, Bars & Entertainment Venues
    • Create an event or party at your business.
    • Already have an event scheduled? Great! Brand it as part of 816Day.
      • Live music, DJ,/ Karaoke / Bar Games: Cornhole, Large Jenga / Trivia / Contests & Giveaway
    • Offer unique food & beverage specials.
    • Already have a food and drink special planned for that day? Perfect! Brand it as part of 816Day.
      • Reduced Admission or Free Event
      • Feature locally made or produced products? KC themed food special
      • Create KC themed cocktails
  • Retail & Other Service Industry Businesses
    • Offer specials/sales on goods and services
    • Already have a sale on goods and services planned for that day? Super! Brand it in part of 816Day
      • Feature KC apparel
      • Feature KC made products
      • Decorate your business with a KC/816 theme

For questions or more information, contact info@dnakcmo.org.

816Day is presented in cooperation by the DNA , Do816.com, the Downtown Council of Kansas City, the Crossroads Community Association, KC Streetcar, John’s Big Deck, the City Market, and the KC Power & Light District.

Western Auto sign to light up Downtown once again

The iconic Western Auto sign – erected in 1952 – will once again light up the Downtown sky. A lighting ceremony for the newly renovated sign is set for 8:45 p.m. today (Friday).

The iconic Western Auto sign is will light up the Downtown Kansas City sky once again, beginning tonight (Friday).

The top of that wedge-shaped building at 21st Street and Grand Boulevard used to come alive each night with light and color as the Western Auto sign blazed above Kansas City, according to The Kansas City Star.

The 65-year-old sign – which has been dark for years – will be illuminated again beginning at 8:45 p.m. today (Friday). The words “Western Auto” will be in red while white lights will form a repeating circular arrow around them.

You can thank the members of the Western Auto Lofts Condominium Association, who live in the building. They footed the bill to repair and restore the iconic sign, according to The Starwhich reported:

  • The sign is 73 feet high and 70 feet across. The letters are 10 feet tall.
  • The arrow is 150 feet long and is made of 30 tons of steel. It included about 2,500 incandescent bulbs.
  • The sign also incorporates about 1,000 feet of red and green neon tubing. It required five miles of wiring.

“The association is thrilled to give this gift back to the residents of Kansas City and can’t wait to be a part of the skyline once more,” said an announcement on the association’s Facebook page.

To read the complete story, visit The Kansas City Star.

NY Times shines global spotlight on Downtown KC

The KC Streetcar: Credit Anna Petrow for The New York Times

The Perfect Way to Explore Modern Kansas City? A Streetcar, Believe It or Not

The contemporary trolley, introduced in 2016, takes visitors to an arts district, an entertainment district and a happy state of mind.

By Richard Rubin, The New York Times

In 2002, when Sylvester “Sly” James moved his law office to downtown Kansas City, Mo., he made a wager with a colleague. “I bet him I could walk across Main Street naked at 6 p.m. and nobody would see it,” he recalled. “And the proof that I was right is that no video of that has ever shown up on YouTube.” Downtown, he said, “was freakin’ desolate.”

A decade later, Chris Hernandez remembered, he saw an item on the local news about a two-car accident downtown one evening at 7. “I took it as a sign that things were turning around,” he said. “There were actually two cars there to hit each other!”

As it turns out, Mr. Hernandez was onto something: Things were, in fact, starting to turn around. 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 revived its downtown, which now skews closer to “bustling” than “desolate” many nights.

Mr. Hernandez is the city’s director of communications; Mr. James is its mayor. Both can rattle off countless examples of nearly miraculous urban revitalization: thriving businesses in storefronts that stood vacant for years; gleaming new high-rise apartment blocks that are largely (some say entirely) rented out even before they’re completed; vibrant arts and culinary scenes. But you can see what is arguably the single best embodiment of the phenomenon for yourself at regular intervals as you stroll along — or even stand still on — downtown’s Main Street.

If at this point your mind absolutely must drift to 1940s musical lyrics, I recommend nudging it away from “everything’s up to date in Kansas City” and toward “clang clang clang went the trolley” (even though, technically, that one is set in St. Louis; same state, anyway).

Pizzas at Il Lazzarone, a restaurant at the River Market West streetcar stop. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Yes: Kansas City has a trolley. And not one of those old-timey trolleys that doesn’t go much of anywhere and goes there slowly. The one in Kansas City is sleek. Modern. Has air-conditioning and Wi-Fi.It runs a real route — 2.2 miles from end to end, then back again — through the heart of downtown.

At peak times, like rush hour, one comes along every 10 minutes; off-peak, it’s more like every 12 to 18 minutes. (Every stop has digital kiosks announcing how soon the next one will be along.) It starts running at 6 a.m. and doesn’t stop until midnight on weeknights, 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. (This being the Midwest, on Sundays it starts late — 7 a.m. — and shuts down early, at 11 p.m.)

Oh: And it’s free.

And not, technically, a trolley; they take great care here to remind you (cheerfully) that it’s a streetcar. That may seem like a distinction without a difference, but it reflects the way the city and its denizens view it. A trolley, in this day and age, is a self-conscious quaintness, almost an amusement-park ride; a streetcar, on the other hand — as Mr. Hernandez explained — is more of a “pedestrian accelerator.”

And, as it turns out, an attraction, too.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

In my experience, the whole “Midwestern nice” thing can be overstated; but not when it comes to Kansas City. Step off the KC Streetcar (as it is officially known) and look around as if you don’t know where you are going and a passer-by will stop and ask where you’re trying to get to. Sport that expression while you’re still riding it and someone sitting across the aisle from you will do the same thing. Ask them how they like the streetcar and they will tell you, sincerely and in a fair bit of detail.And they do like it. They ride it. The city — which has a population just under a half-million — projected one million riders in the streetcar’s first year; it got twice as many by day 364. A year later that figure exceeded four million.

No one would have predicted such a phenomenon as recently as the beginning of this decade.Back then, Mr. James recalled, “things were slow here. People were depressed. They didn’t believe the city could do things.”

But then Kansas City won a lottery of sorts: In the spring of 2011 — just as Mr. James was starting his first term as mayor — Google announced that it would be inaugurating its broadband internet and television service, Google Fiber, there. “That was a big boost,” Mr. James recalled. “Google was putting us on the map — we could leverage that.”

They did. The streetcar — which made its first run on May 6, 2016 — wasn’t by any means the only element of downtown’s revitalization, but it was perhaps the boldest, and certainly the most dynamic. “It’s been a tremendous catalytic thing,” Mr. James said. “It’s created much more flow—more profits for businesses downtown, more foot traffic.” In the streetcar’s first year of operation, revenue from sales taxes along its route — an area known as the Transportation Development District, or T.D.D. — rose 54 percent, as opposed to 16 percent citywide.

Birdie’s, a boutique in the Crossroads Arts District. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

If this seems like a boon for those businesses, you could say they earned it: “They decided it would be free,” the mayor explains — paid for by a special assessment on business owners and residential landlords along the T.D.D. (The construction boom in new high rises that are rented out before they’re even completed would seem to indicate that landlords are O.K. with the surtax, too.) “The funds,” Mr. James said, “are more than sufficient to cover the costs. It’s worked out very well.”

Unlike most successful ventures, few individuals have claimed credit for Kansas City’s streetcar; most, when asked, will give you an answer like Mr. Hernandez’s: “It was a very grass-roots effort,” he said. “How to create the streetcar, where it should go. Businesses and residents were involved at every step — where to have stops, their exact placement, even what they should look like.”

The route they all devised does a good job of introducing downtown Kansas City to both tourists and locals who had never really gotten acquainted with it before — and, perhaps coincidentally, showcasing the area’s revival.

It starts and ends at the point where decades of visitors arrived at and departed from the city: Union Station, an imposing 1914 classical structure that, despite its grandeur and the fact that it once hosted more than a half million travelers a year, was actually closed for a decade and a half in the 1980s and 90s; today it’s a museum as well as a functioning rail depot, and the anchor of a neighborhood that includes the Crown Center,an indoor shopping and entertainment complex, and the National World War I Memorial and Museum.

Farmers sell fresh meats and produce at City Market at River Market. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Heading north, it stops next at the Crossroads Arts District, a neighborhood of old warehouses and factories that have been reclaimed as live/work spaces and is now home to a lively arts scene. Then comes the Power & Light District — named for an Art Deco 1931 skyscraper that was for decades both the home of the local electric utility company and the tallest building west of the Mississippi — which is the city’s newest entertainment district; it features the Sprint Center (a sports and concert arena), Kansas City Live! (a block-square outdoor atrium surrounded by pubs and restaurants and containing a performance stage and massive Jumbotron), most of those new residential high rises and, naturally, the world headquarters of H & R Block.

The next stop is Metro Center, home to government buildings, business offices, hotels, cafes and restaurants; then the Library stop, named for the city’s Central Library, which occupies a 1906 bank building that features 13-foot-high bronze doors, a roof garden with a life-size chess set, and a basement vault that has been converted to a movie theater; then the North Loop, which doesn’t have much of note yet except a neat older Western Union building and a neat newer office building known as “the flashcube” because, well, it looks like a flashcube; and finally the River Market, which includes old warehouses that have been converted to lofts, lots of restaurants and an expansive farmer’s market that has been going year-round since 1857.

There are edifices worthy of a good long look all along the route, but none more arresting than what you will spot looking out the window to your left as you shuttle from Crossroads to Power & Light: There, up on a hill, is the Moshe Safdie-designed Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2011 and which, depending upon your aesthetic sensibilities, you will find either sublime or terrifying.

The National World War I Memorial and Museum. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

It contains two 1,500-plus-seat theaters, each of which, I am told, has fine acoustics; the building, which sits on more than 18 acres, is said to have been so well-designed that it can and often does host two different performances simultaneously without any aural crossover. In addition to hosting touring companies, the city’s symphony orchestra and opera and ballet companies all call it home. “We have a very strong arts scene here in Kansas City,” Jean Luzader, a volunteer at the Kauffman Center, told me. “People think we have cows running through the streets, you know, but we don’t.”

Streetcars — once almost ubiquitous, later almost extinct — are having a moment: In the past five years, lines have also started operating in Salt Lake City, Tucson, Dallas, Cincinnati and Detroit. (Two others, in Milwaukee and Oklahoma City, are scheduled to open by the end of this year.) Some have been more successful and transformative than others, but few seem to have had the impact of Kansas City’s. It’s the only one that’s free to ride, but what really makes it distinct is the palpable sense that is more than just a way of moving people around: It’s a movement — one that, judging by the crowds riding on weekends, transcends age and ethnicity.

Everyone seems to like each other, too. “When you’re on the streetcar,” Mr. Hernandez said, “you truly get a sense of community. It gets people off their phones and talking to each other again. I see it every time I’m on it. I think people who are from Kansas City are having fun talking to visitors and telling them about places they should check out.”

The Crossroads Arts District. Credit: Anna Petrow for The New York Times

Of course, many of them — locals and visitors — are there to check out the streetcar itself.Riding it around and around will strike a certain type of person as a fine — not to mention economical — way to pass a few hours. Technically, you’re supposed to get off and re-board every time it pulls into Union Station; but this being the Midwest, no one will get too terribly upset if you stay put instead. Just smile.


Richard Rubin is the author of “The Last of the Doughboys” and “Back Over There.”

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article inaccurately described Kansas City’s location in relation to the Mississippi River. It is west of the river, not east.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page TR9 of the New York edition with the headline: It’s Not Named Desire, but They Love It Just the Same. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe