After months of stops and starts, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art now has the go ahead for the first phase of its master plan. On Thursday, the Kansas City City Council approved a zoning change for the museum's 29-acre property.
Outdoor sculptures will take the place of the tennis courts of the former Rockhill Tennis Club along Rockhill Road. The clubhouse will be available for sale as a residence. The museum will expand offices, as needed, to the four historic houses it owns along 45th Street.
The Nelson-Atkins filed the application for rezoning in September. But the proposal was controversial, and disagreements from years past surfaced between the cultural institution and neighborhood associations.
In November, the City Plan Commission put the issue on hold after testimony stretched several hours. The museum was asked to continue talking to its neighbors. After months of discussions, they reached an agreement in May. In June, the commission approved the revised proposal.
This week, the city's planning, zoning and economic development committee advanced it to the full council.
"It's really a great example of what can happen when institutions and entities that seem far apart take the time to sit down and actually listen to each other and work out their differences," Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said on Thursday.
Shields added, "They've come up with a solution that is far superior to what either side was initially presenting."
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.