Kevin Collison | KCUR

Kevin Collison

Kevin Collison, a freelance contributor to KCUR 89.3, writes about downtown Kansas City for his website CityScene KC.

Ways to Connect

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

The future layout of Kansas City's planned streetcar extension from downtown to the University of Missouri-Kansas City is on a map, with proposed stops and alignment on Main Street revealed at a recent public hearing.

For the most part, the eight suggested streetcar stops mirror those in place for the MAX rapid-transit bus route now serving that stretch of Main, according to Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority.

In a major boost to downtown Kansas City, Kan., the long-vacant former EPA office building will be converted to a mental and behavioral health facility employing 400 people.

The University of Kansas Health System plans to invest $61 million converting the unique 220,000 square-foot office building, vacant since 2011, into what’s being described as a “state-of-the-art” healthcare facility.

Cooper Carry

Kansas City's long quest to build a downtown convention hotel entered its final stretch on Thursday at a groundbreaking event next to the construction site at 17th and Baltimore.

Work actually began a month ago at the 3-acre site, which is across Wyandotte Street from the Bartle Hall Grand Ballroom. A tower crane loomed above a white tent where more than 200 people celebrated what will be the Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel, a $322.7 million project expected to be completed by late April 2020.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

This post was updated at 2:06 p.m. to include additional comments from interim chancellor and provost Barbara Bichelmeyer.   

In a major setback to downtown’s cultural ambitions, the planned UMKC Downtown Conservatory has suffered a fatal financial blow, losing a $20 million private pledge essential to building the project.

First reported by CityScene KC, the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation has withdrawn its $20 million pledge after deciding the ambitious project as originally planned was no longer viable.

Courtesy Bill Haw Jr.

The Crossroads building recently vacated by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is being purchased by Kansas City civic leader Bill Lyons, who plans to lease part of it to an expanded Haw Contemporary.

Bill Haw Jr. plans to lease about 2,500 square feet on the east side of the building at 19th and Baltimore to allow him to grow beyond his current operation in the West Bottoms, Lyons said.

Courtesy Exact Partners

The 11-story former Netherlands Hotel is slated to be redeveloped into 110 apartments, part of a Main Street development surge linked to the planned streetcar extension.

The decrepit Netherlands at 3835 Main and its neighbor, the former Monarch Storage building at 3829 Main, are part of a more than $30 million redevelopment plan being pursued by Exact Partners.

Courtesy Loews

After seven years of discussion and planning, construction of a 24-story, 800-room downtown convention hotel in Kansas City is expected to begin Jan. 2 following approvals of key documents Wednesday.

A thick stack of financing and property transfer documents necessary for the $322.7 million Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel project was approved unanimously by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

Courtesy BNIM

After a 36 year absence, a full-service YMCA will be returning to downtown Kansas City — this time in the historic Lyric Theater at 11th and Central.

The Missouri Development Finance Board on Tuesday approved up to $4 million in state tax credits, a move that will allow the YMCA to complete its fundraising for the project that's been in the works since 2012.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City International Airport is broadening its horizons, hosting a community design meeting for the new terminal in Johnson County after all and stepping up efforts to attract international air service.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Mayor James came out swinging today against Republican tax reform proposals being considered in Washington, saying they would “cripple” vital city redevelopment and infrastructure efforts including the planned new terminal at Kansas City International Airport.

“We need an agenda to revitalize and restore the infrastructure of our cities, not cripple future investment in our urban centers,” James said in a press release.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Sculptor Spencer Schubert has his works prominently displayed across the region from Manhattan to Jefferson City, and now wants to do something closer to home as a healing gesture for his community.

He’s proposing a soaring sculpture of two hands grasping a knotted rope as a sign of unity to replace a controversial Confederate memorial removed last August from the median of Ward Parkway at 55th Street.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

In a big breakthrough for downtown commuters, Missouri highway and Kansas City officials have come up with an interim repair plan that avoids closing the Buck O'Neil Bridge entirely and buys time for a hoped-for, permanent replacement.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

A. Zahner Co., a world-renowned, architectural metal fabrication firm, is practicing its creativity on its $5 million expansion project at its downtown headquarters and manufacturing facility at Eighth and The Paseo.

File Photo By Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The owner of The Kansas City Star has decided not to sell the newspaper’s massive green-glass production plant overlooking downtown after all.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

The congested bus transit center at 10th and Main is scheduled to be closed within two years, opening up space for a potential pocket park in the heart of downtown.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority plans to relocate the 1/2-acre transit center, currently a hub for 15 bus routes, to a new, larger site in the East Village area at the southeast corner of 12th and Charlotte.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

The historic Attucks School building in the 18th & Vine Jazz District won’t be reused as a school after all.

Instead, the city has chosen a proposal by two internationally-renowned artists based in Chicago to convert the old building at 1815 Woodland Ave. into a hub for arts and culture.

The Zhou Brothers, ShanZuo and DaHuang, plan to create a Kansas City version of their Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. The plan includes gallery and exhibition space, live-work space for artists and other arts-related uses.

Port KC

A proposed $30 million extension of the downtown streetcar to Kansas City's Berkley Riverfront could substantially boost development opportunities and allow people to live and visit there without cars, according to the leader of Port KC.

And Port KC, which receives a big part of its revenues from a long-term lease agreement with the Isle of Capri casino, plans to find ways to help fund the streetcar expansion “with or without” federal funding.

Kevin Collison / City Scene KC

Winslow’s BBQ, a City Market institution that traces its roots to the “roaring” River Quay days in 1971, is going out of business next month.

The barbecue joint and its 300-seat outdoor patio overlooking the City Market vendors has been a familiar fixture for generations, but that will all end Oct. 15, according to Deb Churchill, vice president and property manager for KC Commercial Realty Group which manages the market for the city.

Photo from restaurant Facebook Page

Cafe al Dente is closing after 17 years in the River Market, the first business to depart following the purchase of its building and others along Delaware Street by a Denver investor.

The Italian restaurant posted on its Facebook Page this week it was being “kicked out” of its space at 412 Delaware St., observing “the new building owner has decided we don’t meet his vision and will not renew our lease.”

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Alexander Austin has worked on some big canvases as one of the city's preeminent street muralists, but the new assignment he's executing in the Power & Light District is taking him to an even higher level.

As in 80 feet above street level painting a mural over a half-football field long on the new 24-story Two Light apartment tower.

"It's the biggest I've ever done," says Austin, who began his mural career on Troost Avenue in the early 1990s as a homeless person. "To have Cordish show this much appreciation for me, I'm honored."

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

The North Loop freeway that divides the River Market from the rest of downtown won’t be going away anytime soon if the advice of a panel of national urban planning experts is followed.

Bottom line, there’s too much easily developable land already available downtown to make it cost effective to redevelop the North Loop corridor, concluded the group from the Urban Land Institute.

“Our panel believes now is not the optimal time to pursue redevelopment in that area,” says Glenda Hood, the chairwoman of the ULI panel and the former mayor of Orlando, Florida. 

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

The Crossroads Academy hopefully has found a new permanent home for its downtown high school, the long-vacant, historic Attucks School in the 18th & Vine Jazz District.

The charter school has submitted a bid to the city to buy the old building at 1815 Woodland Ave. If accepted, it could ultimately house 500 high school students attending the expanding Crossroads Academy program.

3D Development

The sale of The Kansas City Star building is expected to be completed Thursday, although the new owner has no immediate plans to redevelop the historic property at 1729 Grand Blvd.

“I’ve worked a little over a year on the transaction so I’m excited to complete the acquisition,” says Vince Bryant of 3-D Development.

“The good news is, it’s a big facility. We’re exploring possibilities as low volume as storage or a data center. On the big side would be higher end office.”

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Craig Slawson knows a lot about oil exploration, a business his family has been in for 60 years.

In that industry, when you find a "play," you’ve identified a geological region where conditions are ripe for discovering oil fields, lots of them.

Now that he’s expanded into real estate, the Denver-based founder of Epoch Developments believes he’s located a promising new "play" for that business in the River Market.

Foutch Brothers, LLC

The $39 million redevelopment of the former Kemper Arena into a amateur sports complex that's expected to draw a half million out-of-town visitors to the West Bottoms annually has cleared its last financial hurdle.

Wikimedia Commons/Kansas City Star

When it opened in 2006, The Kansas City Star Press Pavilion was hailed as a major contribution to the revitalization of downtown and the latest technology in the newspaper industry.

The striking 434,000-square-foot building clad in green glass and copper covered two city blocks, rising from four stories along 17th Street to its eight-story prow above the South Loop freeway.

Hyundai

In a weird mash-up, Hyundai is using the Kansas City skyline, with a few more buildings thrown in for good measure, in a national television commercial for its 2017 Sonata model.

The spot opens with heavy freeway traffic in the foreground but there’s no mistaking the core downtown skyline in the background: One Kansas City Place, the Town Pavilion, the Power & Light building, 1201 Walnut and Commerce Tower.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Star’s historic headquarters building at 1729 Grand Blvd. has been sold to a local developer who wants to redevelop the property as a first-class office project for up to 1,200 workers.

On Friday, The Star’s parent company, Sacramento-based McClatchy, announced it had sold the historic property and the 11-year-old Press Pavilion across McGee Street for a combined $42 million.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

A task force established by Gov. Greitens to examine state tax credit policy has returned with recommendations that preservationists say would substantially cut the historic tax credit program and make it much more difficult to utilize.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Warren Erdman, the leader of the local effort to obtain state money for the proposed UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts, warned Thursday that any alternative funding plan in response to the Gov. Eric Greitens’ veto last week should not place a “severe” strain on UMKC.

“The governor decided not to go in that direction, and the (state matching funding) tool is no longer in the tool box,” Erdman told a meeting of the Downtown Council board.

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