BIG 12 week has arrived, and Downtown is ready!

The countdown has begun for the next Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament on Wednesday through Saturday in the heart of Downtown KC.

The BIG week has arrived in Downtown KC.
The Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament returns to Downtown Kansas City for the 17th time this week, and preparations are under way throughout the neighborhoods. Games begin on Wednesday evening and conclude with the championship match at 5 p.m. Saturday.
This blog post is designed to bring you up-to-date on a series of street closures that began as early as Monday. According to The Kansas City StarThe best advice is to think ahead, and be prepared for delays as you traverse the streets and neighborhoods of Downtown KC.
Here’s what to expect during this festive week ahead:
  • Grand Boulevard is closed between 13th Street and Truman Road through 6 a.m. Sunday.
  • 14th Street is closed between Walnut Street and Grand Boulevard through 6 a.m. Sunday. There will be valet access to 14th between Main and Walnut during the closure.
  • Truman Road is limited to one lane between Oak and Walnut streets now through 6 a.m. Sunday.
  • Beginning at 10 a.m. today, 14th Street will be closed between Main and Walnut streets. It will remain closed through midnight Sunday.
  • Beginning at 10 a.m. today, Walnut Street will close between 13th Street and Truman Road. It will remain closed through midnight on Sunday.
  • Residents and guests of Two Light apartments at Truman Road and Grand Boulevard will have access to the building’s garage throughout the event.

 

Drivers also should expect closures on Saturday morning for the Kansas City Big 12 Run, which will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude about 11 a.m. KCMO Police will allow traffic to cross the race route when it’s safe for runners. Here are the streets that will be impacted by the run:

Here are the streets impacted by the run:

  • Grand Boulevard, between 8th and 12th streets, and between Truman and Pershing Road
  • Eighth Street, between Grand Boulevard and Holmes Street
  • Holmes Street, between Eighth and 18th streets and between 30th and 31st streets
  • Truman Road, between Holmes Street and Woodland Avenue and between Grand Boulevard and Oak Street
  • Woodland Avenue, between Truman Road and 18th Street
  • 18th Street, between Woodland Avenue and Vine Street and between Holmes Street and Grand Boulevard
  • Vine Street, between 18th Street and 17th Terrace
  • 17th Terrace, between Vine Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/The Paseo
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/The Paseo, between 17th Terrace and 31st Street
  • 31st Street, between between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/The Paseo and Holmes
  • 30th Street, between Holmes and McGee streets
  • McGee, between Holmes Street and Gillham Road
  • Gillham Road, between McGee Street and Pershing Road
  • Oak Street, between Truman Road and 9th Street
  • Ninth Street, between Oak Street and Grand Boulevard

Parking Suggestions – Check out the Downtown Council’s Downtown Parking Map and Kansas City’s Click And Park for parking reservations or download the Parkmobile parking app to pay for metered parking with your mobile phone.

The KC Streetcar will be operating for free (as usual) and RideKC will operate the MAX buses every 8 to 10 minutes through the tournament. The Main Street Max will temporarily reroute during the event. For more information about the Main and Troost MAX routes, visit ridekc.org or call 816-221-0660.

Taxi lanes will be available on the south lane of 13th Street between Oak Street and Grand Boulevard. B-Cycle stations are also spread throughout downtown Kansas City and the River Market.

Plan ahead this week, and enjoy every minutes of one the busiest weeks of the year in your Downtown KC.

Loews CEO calls for decking South Loop at DTC luncheon

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

Story courtesy of Kevin Collison, CitySceneKC.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annual Luncheon to elevate momentum of Downtown KC

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

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

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former Mayor Kay Barnes

Additional luncheon highlights

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chiefs rally set for Saturday evening in Downtown KC

Union Station is bathed in Chiefs Red to celebrate our hometown heroes and cheer them on with a rally Saturday evening and for the AFC Championship game on Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs fans are invited to meet in Downtown this evening (Saturday) – on the eve of the AFC Championship game – to rally in support of our hometown Chiefs!

Fans are asked to gather at Union Station by 5 p.m. to hop a ride on the ceremonial Rolling with the Chiefs edition of the KC Streetcar on to a pep rally at the Kansas City Power & Light District

Festivities will begin at 5 p.m. (today) Saturday will include giveaways, contests and appearances by KC Wolf, Chiefs Cheerleaders and Chiefs Rumble.

The party is FREE and ALL AGES are welcome. The first 200 guests will receive an official Chiefs Kingdom flag. Sports Radio 810 will register guests for tickets to Sunday’s game and autographed memorabilia giveaways. Heartland Coca-Cola will give away a pair of field passes for Sunday’s game.

The KC Streetcar at Union Station around 5:30 p.m. where the Chiefs Rumble will perform at the East Transit Plaza location. They will then head onto the Chiefs Streetcar, where they will perform and entertain riders to the Power & Light District.

The Chiefs Rumble will then parade from the Power & Light District stop to the KC Live! Block for the KC Kingdom Pre-Party at KC Live!
Sports Radio 810’s Steven St. John will kick off the rally at 6:30 p.m. on the KC Live! Stage and feature hype videos, as well as performances by the Chiefs Cheerleaders, KC Wolf and Chiefs Rumble.

To cap off the celebration, a KC Kingdom bar crawl is planned for eight bars and restaurants in the Power & Light District– check out Ticketfly.com for tickets and more information.
Dress for the bitter cold, and come prepared to cheer on the Chiefs!

Keynote to feature Loews Hotels, H&R Block CEOs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional luncheon highlights

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

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

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

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

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

 

KC Streetcar to ‘Roll with the Chiefs’ beginning Friday

One of the KC Streetcars will be wrapped in Kansas City Chiefs colors and images today in preparation for a Red Friday debut on, well, Friday. Go Chiefs!

One of the KC Streetcars will be wrapped in Kansas City Chiefs colors and images in preparation for a Red Friday debut on, well, today. Go Chiefs!

The KC Streetcar is doing something it has never done before – turning over a streetcar to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Beginning Friday, all of Kansas City is invited to Roll with the Chiefs on a specially branded Chiefs KC Streetcar. The Kansas City Chiefs and the KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA), together with Hy-Vee and Sprint, wrapped one streetcar in Chiefs branding to kick off Red Friday and the Chiefs playoff run, which begins Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts.

In addition to the Chiefs Streetcar, the Chiefs and the KCSA are throwing a Red Friday celebration.

Rolling with the Chiefs will include Chiefs representatives, KC Wolf, Chiefs Cheerleaders, Chiefs Ambassadors and the Chiefs Rumble for Kansas City’s first-ever Rolling with the Chiefs party. The celebration will start on board the Chiefs Streetcar at 5 p.m. Friday and continue for one loop around Downtown.

The Chiefs crew will then head back to the Power & Light District Streetcar stop at 14th & Main Street where the Red Friday celebration continues as well as at BRGR Kitchen + Bar. There will be giveaways and prizes for those in attendance, including four tickets and pregame sideline passes for Saturday’s AFC Divisional Game at Arrowhead Stadium courtesy of Hy-Vee, presenting partner of the playoffs.

Getting off work early this Red Friday? Join the Streetcar team and 810 Sports Radio as they broadcast live from on board the Chiefs Streetcar starting at 3 p.m. Friday. You can track the exact location of the Chiefs Streetcar, otherwise known as Streetcar 804, using the free KCity Post tracker for or the RideKC Transit App for smart phones.

For KC Streetcar inquiries, contact Donna Mandelbaum with the KC Streetcar Authority at 816.627.2526 (office), 816.877.3219 (cell) or by email at dmandelbaum@kcstreetcar.org. The KC Streetcar is also online at www.kcstreetcar.org and on Twitter (@kcstreetcar), Facebook (@kcstreetcar) and Instagram.

Downtown KC rings out 2018 with growth, optimism

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

Courtesy, Kevin Collison, CityScene KC

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

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

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

There are warning signs heading into the new year though.

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

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

All political fodder for the upcoming mayoral election.

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

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

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

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

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

Downtown Kansas City – 2018

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

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Crossroads bar nabs national attention for its holiday spirit(s)

The Miracle at Rockhill, on the second floor of The Rockhill Grille in the Crossroads, tops the list of holiday pop-up bars that recently received national attention in The Daily Beast.

A Downtown Kansas City holiday pop-up bar is featured in a national story featuring “Bars that really get into the holiday spirit.”

The Daily Beast pointed its national spotlight last week on festive pop-up bars, which “have officially taken over America.” The Miracle at Rockhill on the second floor of The Rockhill Grille, 2000 Grand, topped the list of The Daily Beast’s story on the best, brightest, and most enthusiastic spots.

The Daily Beast reported:

“From tinsel and twinkling garlands to life-size reindeer and towering nutcrackers, the last few years have seen an influx of holiday themed bars—and to be honest every year they keep getting better and better.

Whether you’re into festive cocktails with a hint of the beach, or want to go full candy cane and Santa Claus, there’s a holiday bar just for you. But there are only a few weeks left to get your fill of holiday cheer before the season comes to a close, so slip on your favorite ugly sweater and visit one of these bedecked bars tonight.

Miracle at The Rockhill Grille, Kansas City, Missouri

Back for its fifth year in a row, more than 80 bars around the country have signed up for a festive Miracle makeover, which includes signature drinks and seasonal glassware. For the first time, The Rockhill Grille in Kansas City, Missouri, is participating in the Miracle program, and the bar team has injected plenty of merriment into the experience. Along with the standard drinks menu, including the Christmapolitan and the Snowball Old-Fashioned that are featured at all of the participating Miracle locations, the bar is also serving a roster of its own recipes using products from local distiller, J. Rieger & Co. The pop-up will run through December 31. Find a list of all of this year’s Miracle locations here.

Erica Verges

Mele Kalikimaka at SOS Tiki, Atlanta, Georgia

At first blush, tiki drinks and the holiday spirit may not seem to go together at all, but for a second year in a row SOS Tiki’s Mele Kalikimaka is proving that it’s actually a match made in heaven. The name of the pop up is, of course, a Hawaiian phrase meaning “Merry Christmas.” (It’s also the title of a Bing Crosby tune popularized in the 1950s.) SOS Tiki, which is pictured above, has 10 Christmas-y cocktails to choose from, including a frozen, rum-spiked Eggnog, and the Jack Frost that combines rums, vanilla, coconut, pineapple, and lemon.

Craft & Commerce and False Idol, San Diego, California

Celebrating the holidays in balmy San Diego means you can have all the holiday cheer you want without having to bundle up. Local bar Craft & Commerce has turned itself into Whoville Winter Wonderland and the nearby False Idol is temporarily The Grinch’s Lair. That means after you’ve enjoyed a Reindeer Games cocktail (apple brandy, aquavit, chile liqueur, apple cider) or any of the other eight holiday-themed cocktails in Whoville, you can then drink a Holiday Mouth Feels (Angostura Bitters, pot still rum, lemon, falernum, orgeat) with the Grinch. Be sure to stop in before January 1, which is the last day for both pop ups.

Santa Baby, Chicago, Illinois

If you’re obsessed with tinsel, taken by wreaths, and blown away by a perfectly bedazzled tree, this immersive Chicago Christmas bar is where you need to celebrate the holidays. Not only will Santa Baby be decked out in over-the-top decorations, but it will also feature multiple bars slinging drinks that Kris Kringle would certainly enjoy. If you’re going with a group, try the oversized Jingle Juice, which blends a base of spiced rum, Grand Marnier and amaretto with a bright, bubbly blend of pineapple, Sprite, citrus and cranberry. And don’t forget to try the Atomic Yule Log (Flamin’ Hot Cheeto, cheddar, Sriracha dust) or a few Lumps of Coal (puffed rice, marshmallow, chocolate cookie dust).

Donn’s Depot, Austin, Texas

For more than two decades, Donn’s Depot in Austin has gotten gussied up for the holidays—and each year the decorations have gotten more intricate. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, more than 40 staff members work together to transform the bar and music venue into what it calls a “magical winter wonderland.” Snowflake ornaments hang from the ceiling and nutcrackers, mini-trees, and rows of stockings cover just about every possible surface. Visitors can sip on boozy and non-alcoholic holiday cocktails, including the Little Drummer Boy (tequila, allspice, pear, lemon), Mazel Tov (rum, chocolate, gelt), and warming hot chocolate.

Winter Chalet at Industry Kitchen, New York

Through the end of January, when you walk into the South Street Seaport’s Industry Kitchen you’ll be greeted by a canopy of twinkling lights, life-size reindeer and a swath of holiday greenery that transforms the space into a cozy getaway. But the wintry chalet experience is not complete without a festive cocktail in hand. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of options when deciding what to pair with your Gingernut Pizza—a pie made with a ginger crust, Eggnog frosting and candy canes. Go for The Flurry, a simple sour that mixes gin, St-Germain and lemon, or gather a group of friends and order the crowd-friendly Frozen Peppermint Slide (Baileys, candy canes, peppermint bark).

Sleyenda at Leyenda, Brooklyn, New York

Last year, Leyenda’s co-owners and bartenders extraordinaire, Julie Reiner and Ivy Mix, debuted their holiday pop-up bar Sleyenda—and this year, it’s back! Celebrating strong women the world over, the award-winning watering hole will donate $1 from each holiday drink sold to different charities, including the Global Fund for Women, New York Women’s Foundation, Outsmart NYC, and the Me Too Movement. That means no matter what Christmas or Hanukkah-themed drink you choose, from the Coquito Ho Ho Ho (reposado tequila, Oloroso sherry, coconut, Braulio, cinnamon) to the Chutzpah Spritzah (Aperol, Campari, gin, Manischewitz, Amaro Angostura, brut rosé), you can be sure you’re contributing to a good cause while spreading a bit of holiday cheer.”

The Miracle at Rockhill is open nightly through New Year’s Eve. Ho, ho, ho…

 

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 sean@downtownkc.org

 

Symphony to attempt Guinness World Record for TubaChristmas

The Kansas City Symphony is aiming for tuba glory at noon on Friday, Dec. 7 in the Municipal Arena at Municipal Auditorium with its annual holiday tradition TubaChristmas.

Since 2008, the Symphony has hosted hundreds of tuba and euphonium players for TubaChristmas, most recently in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts for two performances each year. For 2018, the Symphony was ready to up the ante by combining all players into one date at the Municipal Arena and go for a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title attempt.

The free, one-hour concert on Friday, Dec. 7 will feature traditional holiday carols arranged for tuba and euphoniums, and the concerts draw packed houses. The 2018 concert also will feature the world premiere of a new composition for tubas and euphoniums by James Barnes, noted composer and University of Kansas professor emeritus of music composition. University of Kansas professor of tuba-euphonium, Scott Watson, will conduct the concert.

The tradition of TubaChristmas began in 1974 in New York City by renowned tuba player and teacher Harvey Phillips. Today there are hundreds of TubaChristmas events around the nation and world, making it the perfect event for a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS official attempt.

The current record was achieved on December 21, 2007, in Anaheim, California, with 502 performers.

“We can absolutely break the current GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title,” said Kansas City Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne, himself a tuba player. “This event has such wonderful spirit, is so much fun, and we have had incredible response each year. For 2018 we want to have the biggest and best TubaChristmas in the world, and to break a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title. It will be a source of pride for Kansas City and great fun for performers and audience.”

The Symphony is taking no chances. A GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Adjudicator will attend, so everyone at the concert will know if the Kansas City Symphony’s TubaChristmas achieves a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title.

Tuba and euphonium players may register to perform here.

Audience members who wish to witness the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title attempt can secure free tickets right here.

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