downtown

A traffic engineer fine-tunes the InSync system from a remote computer.
Rhythm Engineering/InSync

A new $700,000 computerized traffic system installed by a private company to give Kansas City streetcar riders a better experience is reducing travel times for all vehicles in the downtown streetcar zone, according to the company.  

Jesse Manning of Rhythm Engineering, a Lenexa, Kansas, firm, told a City Council committee last week that the smart traffic system has reduced travel times between the River Market and Union Station by 31 percent northbound and 23 percent southbound during morning peak traffic hours.

Helix Architecture + Design

The University of Missouri System Board of Curators met on Thursday and Friday in Columbia, Missouri, to review and vote on a $200 million 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's 18th and Vine shares similar roots with Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. And both of these music-infused, historically African-American districts have gone through ups and downs over the decades. 

Beale Street is now a thriving tourist destination with restaurants, bars, and shops, although some of its lively streetscape includes facades of historic buildings propped up with steel girders. 

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Streetcar officials say they are still investigating what caused a streetcar to go slightly off its rails near Union Station Monday, but they admit rain might have contributed to the car shunting off its track. 

Speaking on KCUR's Up To Date Tuesday morning, Donna Mandelbaum with the Kansas City Streetcar Authority said the problem originated at the track-switch area near Union Station, where streetcars turn back north on the 2.2-mile line. 

americanjazzmuseum.com

Kansas City jazz fans take note: The executive director of the American Jazz Museum says we will have a world-class jazz festival and it will debut in just one year.

A City Council committee this week approved a renewal for the museum to continue to manage the 18th and Vine project. Jazz Museum Executive Director Cheptoo Kositani-Buckner used the occasion to tout the accomplishments of the district she has managed since January.

MoBikeFed / Twitter

Kansas City's bicycle infrastructure is in the midst of an overhaul. But progress can be slow. Every year, KCUR's Central Standard does a check-in, to see how it's going. This year, it's all about turning miles of added bike lanes into continuous routes. Plus, a Kansas City cyclist's fatal collision raises concerns about safety. Why are accidents on the rise in Missouri?

Guests:

Missouri Department of Transportation

The aging Grand Avenue bridge over Interstate 670 will have to be replaced, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The bridge has been closed since May 6, when small pieces of concrete started falling off of it, District Engineer Dan Niec says.

It cannot be repaired.

“The current design of that bridge was modern for that time, for that era, when it was built back in the ’60s,” Niec says. “Those types of bridges are no longer built.”

Creative Commons

The building is historic, and the story familiar. 

Developers seeking to renovate the old Federal Reserve Building at 925 Grand told the 95-year-old tower's tale of woe to the City Council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday.

They described and showed photos of disrepair and water damage in a structure now eight years vacant, lacking a fire sprinkler system and with only one working elevator for which repair parts must be custom-fabricated.

Laura Ziegler KCUR 89-3

More than 300 people gathered downtown Friday to watch officials ranging from the mayor to the acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration open Kansas City's new streetcar line.

Mayor Sly James acknowledged it had been a long and sometimes difficult process to secure the streetcar.

"This is our moment," the mayor said to the jubilant crowd. 

Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration Carolyn Flowers said in an interview that Kansas City used the special Transportation Development District in a new way to its credit.  

courtesy: National World War I Museum and Memorial

Weeks after the end of World War I in 1918, Kansas Citians started fundraising for a memorial. A community fund drive raised more than $2.5 million, and Liberty Memorial opened on Nov. 11, 1926. In 2006, the National World War I Museum, a $102 million project "dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War" opened to the public

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

After $102 million and more than five years of design, construction and testing, Kansas City is about to get a taste of streetcars again.

The 2.2 mile starter line marks the first time the city has brought back public rail transit since 1957, when the historic line was shuttered. For KC Streetcar Authority Executive Director Tom Gerend, the process has already been worth the effort.

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Eric Rosen's play, Lot's Wife, has gone through several iterations over the last two decades. It's a work that Rosen, the artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, started in the early 1990s when he was in graduate school. It premieres this weekend in the Rep's first new works festival. 

Structured as a play within a play, it has echoes of a personal tragedy, and 1930s noir as well as a nod to the cautionary Biblical tale of Lot’s wife, who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back.

Coy Dugger / KCUR 89.3

Stepping through the doors of the Harry J. Epstein Co. hardware and surplus shop in downtown Kansas City, Missouri is like stepping through time.

At first glance, Epstein’s looks like an old-fashioned, everyday hardware store. The shelves are lined with packages of bolts, and bins are stocked with piles of steel hand tools. 

But not all of the items are what you would find in an everyday tool shed. Some of Epstein’s more unusual products would make even the most proficient garage guru green with envy.

courtesy A. Zahner Company

By a unanimous vote, the Kansas City City Council approved $1.6 million in funding on Thursday to repair one of the iconic sculptures called Sky Stations on top of Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.

"I think one of the most famous, or perhaps sometimes infamous, pieces of art that have been placed in this city are the Sky Stations," says Councilman Scott Wagner of the sculptures, popularly known as "hair curlers."

Much of the business development success in the metro today is due, in part, to TIF — tax increment financing — that has attracted investment and built big projects. But TIF also comes with a cost and increasingly, some say that cost is too high.

Guest:

  • Kevin Collison is a KCUR contributor who covers development in Kansas City. 
kcirishparade.com

Kansas City officials are warning motorists Thursday that streets downtown will begin closing at least two hours before the start of the 44th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. 

This map outlines the parade route and key street closures. 

The parade will start at Linwood Boulevard at 11 a.m. Thursday and head south along Broadway to 43rd Street.  

Broadway between 31st and 47th will be shut down, beginning at about 8 a.m. Linwood between Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue will also be closed at that time. 

Courtesy of Hyatt Hotels

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit to force a vote on the downtown convention hotel deal.

The group Citizens for Responsible Government sued the city in Jackson County Court late last year after the Kansas City Council wouldn’t put their question on the ballot.

In oral arguments Feb. 2, the city argued that requiring a vote on the already-signed contracts to build a downtown convention hotel would violate tax increment financing law.

Judge Jennifer M. Phillips agreed, dismissing the lawsuit on Thursday.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

It's been a pretty magical year for the Royals, hasn't it?

Months after hundreds of thousands of Royals fans descended upon downtown Kansas City in November for the team's World Series parade, thousands more are expected to fill Bartle Hall for the 2016 Royals FanFest this weekend.

Crossroads Academy

Dean Johnson, the executive director of the successful K-8 charter school, Crossroads Academy, in downtown Kansas City, says the most common question he gets from parents is: when are you going to open a high school?

Now, he has an answer. 

Hyatt Hotels

Kansas City is asking a Jackson County judge to dismiss a lawsuit that would delay construction on a downtown convention hotel.

The city attorney’s office filed its response Wednesday to a group of petitioners that want to force a vote on a $311 million plan to build a Hyatt hotel downtown.

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri-General Collection

When Kansas Citians talk about the Crossroads Arts District, they're talking about a bustling place full of innovative restaurants, vibrant art galleries, a world-class performing arts center and specialty boutiques, not to mention high-rent condos.

During prime-time, it's got all the parking congestion of a big-city destination. 

But when people talked about the Crossroads in the 1980s, well ... they just didn't. Nobody even knew it had a name.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

For more than a decade, the downtown Marriott Hotel's lighting display has played a key role in brightening up the Kansas City skyline — especially during the holidays.

But who controls those iconic lights? Just one man named Mike Davis. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Kansas City Public Schools says its making plans to move its headquarters from downtown. 

Moving the district headquarters from 12th Street and McGee was something called for in the master plan released two weeks ago.

In an email sent to parents and staff, the district says its entered into a sales contract with the Nazarene Publishing House to buy several buildings at 29th and Troost.

Here's the email:

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City's downtown streetcar made its first powered run along its 2.2 mile route early Thursday.

KC Streetcar Authority workers tested visibility for streetcar operators and made sure the vehicle maintains contact with overhead electric lines.

Streetcar spokeswoman Meghan Jansen says maintenance crews would monitor the car and take notes as they go from the Singleton Yard maintenance facility south to Union Station and back.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

If white flight is making a u-turn and the suburbs are seeing an influx of black residents, are we becoming any more integrated, or are we just trading places?

Guests:

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Few will argue against the notion that the Royals' recent run to a World Series title has been a good thing for Kansas City. The New York Times is lauding the metro's "resurgence" and newfound "swagger." Deadspin is fawning over the record-breaking turnout at Tuesday's victory parade. 

City of Kansas City

It's been a long 30 years since the Royals last earned the title "World Champions," but Sunday's 7-2 victory over the New York Mets has put Kansas City back in the winning mood.

To keep the good vibes flowing, the city has decided to hold a parade and celebration Tuesday to honor the boys in blue. Since it's been a generation since the last local World Series parade, we decided it might help to give Kansas Citians a quick primer on the ins and outs of the party.

Crossroads Academy

One of the more successful charter schools in Kansas City says it plans to open a second campus in time for the next school year.

Crossroads Academy is on Central Street just around the corner from the main branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

It opened in 2012, has doubled in size since that time and now educates about 350 students.

Executive Director Dean Johnson says the school will look for a building to buy downtown that will eventually serve about 400 students in  kindergarten through eighth grades.

Hyatt Hotels

As the Kansas City Council struggles with whether to honor a successful petition drive for a public vote on a planned downtown convention hotel, developers tell the council a delay for the election could be a deal-breaker.

Among the stakeholders in a lengthy Thursday presentation to city council members was Steven Rattner, a finance specialist with the developer of the 800-room hotel. Rattner rold the council that the developer began spending significant time and money on the project in May, after a detailed agreement was signed with the city.

Kansas City leaders face a big decision when it comes to the new downtown convention hotel. A group of petitioners challenging Kansas City’s plan for a the hotel has sufficient signatures to seek a public vote, and new members of city council are questioning the process of the deal. 

Guests:

  • Dan Coffey is with Citizens for Responsible Government, the organization behind the petition. 
  • Quinton Lucas is the at-large councilman for Kansas City's 3rd District.

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