Country Club Plaza

Missouri Division of Tourism / Flickr - CC

What to gaze upon this weekend?

There’s plenty to see, including rodeo performers and commemorative warbirds in daring action, scads of visual art around the Country Club Plaza and a singularly crazy sock puppet that successfully blows up the norm – funny how it only takes one.

So set your peepers on “watch” and revel in the readily observable. If it gets to be too much, I guess you can close an eye. But not both. C’mon, let’s get with the program.

1. American Royal Pro Rodeo

Local artists are painting the town red (and other colors too) as the annual Brush Creek Art Walk competition strikes canvases next weekend, along the banks of Brush Creek. You can watch people create their works en plein air, but keep in mind that dealing with the great outdoors isn't as easy as the masters might make it seem.


InterContinental Kansas City At The Plaza

The InterContinental — the iconic hotel on the corner of the Country Club plaza — wants to be designated as blighted. 

The hotel went before a Kansas City Council committee Wednesday to ask for the designation so it can establish a community improvement district, which would allow the hotel to create 1 percent a sales tax to help pay for renovations.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A proposed $227 million extension of Kansas City’s streetcar line could add nearly four miles to the current route.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance – a citizens’ group not affiliated with the city or the KC Streetcar Authority – filed a petition in Jackson County Court Wednesday to fund an expansion of the current line with a new taxing district along Main Street.

“You think about the shops we have here,” UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said Thursday morning outside the Colonial Shops on 51st Street. “You think about the Plaza. You think about the Nelson art gallery.”

Kevin Collison for KCUR

Lawyer Mike White remembers the community reaction in 1984 to the first tax-increment financing project in Kansas City.

“It was pretty much a yawner,” he said. “No one knew what TIF was.”

More than 30 years later, TIF may be almost as well-known an acronym as the IRS in Kansas City, and in some quarters, equally unpopular.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

The second Tuesday in April each year has been designated as Fountain Day — the day Kansas City fountains spring back to life. This year, the festivities included one fountain that had been dry for the last four years.

A crowd cheered as water cascaded down the 28-foot wall and steps of the William Volker Memorial Fountain in Theis Park, just south of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Over the course of his 70-year career, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed about 1,100 skyscrapers, hotels, churches, museums, and homes. More than 500 of these were built, and seven are in Kansas and Missouri. 

In Missouri: 

Bott House (1956, built 1963)
3640 NW Briarcliff Road, Kansas City

This double-cantilever house perches on a bluff just north of downtown Kansas City, with dramatic views of the city and the Missouri River. It's in the Usonian style — a small, single-story home in an L-shape. 

J.C. Nichols gave Kansas City the Country Club Plaza. Some say he also gave us racial segregation, mid-century white flight and the so-called Troost wall between white and black. We examine his influence, both in Kansas City and across the rest of the country.


Google Earth

The full Kansas City Council followed a committee recommendation this week and voted down an ordinance that sought to preserve three apartment buildings in the 4700 block of Summit. 

The final vote was 9-3 not to seek historic status to save the buildings.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

It seems all but certain three West Plaza apartment buildings designed by Nelle Peters will soon be demolished.  

On Wednesday, a Kansas City Council committee recommended against historic designation for the three buildings at 47th and Summit, which were built in the 1920s and purchased two years ago for $3.6 million. A representative for Price Brothers told the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee that there’d be no way to recoup the cost of renovating the buildings.

The full council still has to vote, but the Historic Kansas City Foundation’s Amanda Crawley told KCUR’s Steve Kraske no one is expecting a miracle.

The buildings are significant because Peters was one of the few female architects working in the city at the time.

“Certainly there are a lot of buildings in Kansas City that are protected that are by her, but we’ve also lost a lot,” Crawley said on Up To Date.

So who was Nelle Peters?

Google Earth

Neighbors called the 1927 English Tudor-revival apartments charming and said they fit the character and history of the west edge of  Kansas City's Country Club Plaza.

Historic Kansas City Foundation preservation enthusiasts said the three half-timbered brick, stucco and stone buildings are examples of the work of prominent female Kansas City architect Nelle Peters and should be saved. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza will soon have a new owner.

Country Club KC Partners LLC is buying the Plaza for $660 million, Highwoods Properties announced Monday. The deal is expected to be finalized in the first quarter.

Country Club KC Partners is an equal partnership between Taubman Centers and the Macerich Company, which are based in Michigan and California, respectively. Both companies own and manage dozens of malls and shopping centers.


A Kansas City Council Committee on Thursday endorsed the long-awaited new Midtown/Plaza Area Plan. Though the plan covers an area from 31st to 55th Street, State Line to Paseo and affects 27 neighborhoods, the peak interest was in what it prescribed for Kansas City's landmark Country Club Plaza.

This has been a matter of extra concern to Plaza purists because the second and current owner of the Plaza, Highwoods Properties, is offering it for sale.

David DeHetre / Flickr

What is the Plaza worth to you? To the city on the whole? A conversation inspired by the retail district being up for sale.


  • Monroe Dodd, local historian, KCUR's Central Standard
  • Susie Haake, lifelong Plaza resident
  • Celia Ruiz, activist, Una Lucha KC, lifelong Kansas Citian
Briana O'Higgins / KCUR 89.3

You may have noticed — Kansas City is home to a large (and growing) population of Canada geese. You may have also noticed that they never seem to leave, and that is probably because most of them don't.

Many have lost the evolutionary instinct to migrate. And why should they migrate? Kansas City has it all: open lakes and fountains, green grass that is rarely covered in thick snow, few predators.

For geese, Kansas City is Beverly Hills.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Around 100 activists didn't let cold rain dissuade them from marching through the Country Club Plaza Sunday to voice their support for more strict environmental regulations before the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris.

The group, organized by environmental advocacy groups 350KC and the KC Climate Coalition, wove through the Plaza chanting, "Turn on clean energy, turn off fossil fuels." They were part of the Global Climate March, which encompassed more than 2,000 events in 175 countries over the weekend.

Sonya Keys / Flickr-CC

Kansas City's world-famous Country Club Plaza shopping and entertainment district is up for sale. 

Owner Highwoods Corporation released a statement late Wednesday afternoon saying it is seeking to divest itself of retail properties and focus on investing in office space, which the company says produces more return per dollar invested.

Cody Newill / KCUR

For the fourth year in a row, Kansas City officials are pushing for teens and young adults to join Mayor Sly James' Club KC and Mayor's Nights events during the summer.

The initiative is meant to keep kids from causing trouble at places like the Plaza by hosting parties and sports tournaments at various community centers across the city.

Mayor James and several city council members were on the Plaza Saturday handing out fliers for the programs. James says that attendance is expected to match last year, which means less problems for law enforcement.

Highwoods Properties

When the Country Club Plaza's traditional holiday light display is switched on this Thanksgiving, nearly 85 percent of the bulbs will be new LEDs. 

LEDs typically cost more up front than regular incandescent bulbs, but they also consume anywhere from one-twentieth to one-tenth of the energy.

Gayle Terry, spokeswoman for Highwoods Properties, the company that owns the Plaza, said that the transition to LEDs was long expected.

The World's Work / Wikimedia Commons

One of the names most closely associated with Kansas City is J.C. Nichols-- for good or bad. 

On Wednesday's Up to Date, we talk about this creator of the Country Club Plaza and what his critics say about him. We also examine what the city gained – and some say lost – due to the efforts of this one man.


Courtesy: Hoefer Wysocki Architecture

A Kansas City council committee approved zoning changes for a 14-story office tower on the north edge of the Country Club Plaza on Wednesday. There appears to be no organized effort to stop its construction.

In recent years, plans for a North-Plaza law office high-rise and a luxury hotel were derailed by opposition. But this time there is no business opposition and Dan Cofran of Friends of the Plaza says his group does not want to stop or delay the Block Real Estate project.

Photo courtesy of Charvex.

It’s not a new problem in Kansas City: Large groups of teens flock to the Plaza on summer weekends, and they don’t always follow the rules. 

Kansas City Police Department Central Patrol Operations Sgt. Greg Williams says the plan this summer is to take a harder line if teens are violating any city ordinances.

What You Remember From The JJ’s Explosion

Feb 19, 2014
Elana Gordon / KCUR

One year ago, many Kansas Citians knew about a natural gas explosion at JJ’s Restaurant before news outlets began to report the story.

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the blast that hundreds of Kansas Citians saw firsthand or felt on the Country Club Plaza.  

We wanted to know more about what you remembered from that evening.

Heather Cowper / Flickr - CC

General Manager, Robert Leyva, talks about the opening of luxury hotel, Hotel Sorella, job creation, and the development of the West Edge area. 

Crime rates have been dropping from downtown Kansas City south to Brush Creek, but a rise in auto theft has been bothering police.

There have been three fewer homicides in 2013, as compared to last year at this time, and a 10 percent reduction in violent assaults. This is good news to Major Shawn Wadle, but his Central Patrol Division can’t escape a trend of a 17 percent rise in auto thefts in the last two months.

Two Are Charged In Murder Of UMKC Student

Mar 27, 2013

A bond of half a million dollars is holding each of two men charged today in the murder of a University of Missouri-Kansas City  student at a near-campus house just south of  Country Club Plaza. 

Allegations point to a robbery gone awry.

20-year-old Alonzo Ruff and 21-year-old Anthony Williams were looking for a place to rob March 21st, according to court documents. 

They allegedly picked the house near 49th and Brookside Boulevard because one of the men charged had once smoked marijuana there.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

A trenching contractor that purportedly cut a gas line before last week’s deadly Country Club Plaza explosion had not been allowed to dig in the area.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

Judging by the lineup at the bar a few blocks from JJ’s last night, you might think you were at the longtime establishment. A lot of employees and regulars met up at Coal Vines on the Plaza, including James Potter.

Tuesday evening’s tragic explosion and fire on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City may have some asking basic questions about gas leaks.

Here’s a brief primer:

How do I know if I have a gas leak?

  • If it’s a natural gas leak, you will smell it.

It’s an unpleasant smell, like rotten eggs.

Natural gas goes through a lot of processing before it can be used as fuel.

After all the other chemicals are taken out, what’s left is methane.

Jeffrey Harvey / KCUR

The circumstances surrounding Tuesday's natural gas explosion just west of the Country Club Plaza - that killed one person, injured more than a dozen, and destroyed JJ's restaurant - were discussed in an afternoon press conference.