Kansas City Council Approves Controversial Westport Apartment Plan

Jun 15, 2017

The Kansas City Council approved Thursday a development plan for a controversial 256-unit apartment complex in Westport by a vote of 8 - 2.

The modern six-story building will replace the building occupied by a Bank of America branch at the corner of Westport Road and Broadway.

The project’s supporters have long-advocated for increasing the residential aspect of the area to make it more multi-purpose. On the other side of the aisle, the groups dedicated to preserving the historic neighborhood opposed the building, saying the design’s height would disrupt the character of Westport.

The decision has split neighborhoods and even households, according to council member Jolie Justus, who ultimately voted yes. She says the project will increase density and believes the Opus developers are willing to problem-solve.

“I’ve been pleased with the developers' willingness to work to minimize businesses interruption during construction and contribute to public infrastructure in the area. I've also been pleased with their willingness to mitigate any parking problems, should they arise," Justus said. 

Council member Katheryn Shields disagreed. She says the developers held over 50 meetings that gave people the opportunity to give suggestions. Shields says she requested their model include one parking spot per unit to condense parking, but her ideas and others' were pushed under the rug.

"The neighborhoods would say ‘we’re considered about parking, we’re concerned about height, we’re concerned about density.’ And the developers would say ‘well, this is the size it has to be for us to be successful.’"

Shields pointed to Columbia, Missouri, and Dinkytown, Minnesota, saying the developers built "large and out of scale" buildings in those locations that didn't fit into the neighborhood. Shields and Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Wagner voted against the ordinance.

Lexi Churchill is a news intern at KCUR 89.3.