Downtown Kansas City’s Pandemic Recovery is Strong


From the onset of the pandemic, the story of Downtown Kansas City has been one of incredible resiliency. In the face of great challenges and uncertainty, we remained steadfast and strong because of our unrelenting dedication over the past two decades to transform Downtown from a single-use office district into a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood animated by residents, visitors, and employees. 

Downtown Kansas City has charted a course that many other cities may need to follow on the path to recovery; mixing live and work together in a thriving, walkable setting. Downtown benefits from a substantial volume of housing intermixed with offices, health care, and education; a strong convention and tourism business; a vibrant arts and culture scene; as well as award-winning restaurants and retail activating our ground floor spaces. The interactivity of these diverse uses has accounted to a large degree for Downtown’s success and will be the key to a full revival.

Downtown KC Visitors

As of August 2023, Downtown Kansas City has restored 100% of the unique visitors (4.9 million) year-to-date (January 1st – August 15th) of 2019. In addition, Downtown has recovered 95% of the number of visits (the visit frequency of unique visitors) from 2019 with 26.9 million visits as of August 15th, 2023.

Anonymous location data from mobile devices provided by indicates attendance at Downtown’s performing arts venues, museums, and entertainment districts has rebounded substantially over the past three years with year-to-date attendance in 2023 ranging from 70% to more than 100% of 2019 volumes.

Downtown KC Employees

The volume of Downtown employees coming into the office stands at 72% of 2019 totals with peaks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. However, the number of employee visits to their Downtown office is up 35% from 2022 and has significantly increased by 78% since 2021.

Several major leasing transactions show continued investment in Downtown’s office market. Blue KC is moving further north into the new 18-story office building at 14th and Baltimore, Veeva Systems signed a seven-year lease and is opening a new office in Lightwell, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently renewed their full 109,000-square-foot lease inside 1111 Main, formerly known as the Town Pavilion. 

Downtown KC Residents

Despite the end-of-the-world stories written in the bleakest months of 2020 and 2021, Downtown Kansas City’s residential population increased 13% (3,824 residents) since 2020, as more people are continuing to choose an urban, mixed-use district to call home.

Downtown residential development continues with 1,247 units currently under construction and more than 6,100 planned to start over the next few years. 

Today, Downtown Kansas City’s neighborhoods are bustling with all manner of social activity. Restaurants and nightlife have returned; attendance at arts, theater, and cultural venues is rebounding; and our sports arenas are full. 

Downtown endures as the most concentrated node of economic activity, home to 35% of the City’s jobs and the region’s center for arts, culture, and entertainment. Downtown continues to be the fastest-growing residential neighborhood of both Kansas City and the entire region, as the population has increased 139% since 2000 to more than 32,000 residents.

Downtown Kansas City’s Transformation

Downtown Kansas City’s transformation, which started twenty years ago, is not the passive result of forces beyond our control, but rather the product of strategic decisions, local leadership, and investments that shape our new vision. We were not simply restoring things to the old order of a monoculture office district but building a vibrant live-work Downtown that prioritizes people and serves all areas of their life.  

The unveiling of this vision, which continues today, created a dynamic mixed-use district that could face and overcome the challenges of the past three years. The reports in this article are telling a story of recovery – returning employees, residential growth, and pedestrian vitality. This diverse tapestry of users are setting the stage for a successful future and fulfilling Downtown Kansas City’s vast potential. The progress achieved signals greater things to come.