West Bottoms

Brian Hillegas / Flickr

There's talk of a West Bottoms revitalization. But the truth is, every fifteen years or so, the industrial stockyards district experiences a new kind of renaissance. In the 80s and 90s, it was an underground arts thing. Now, it's food, festivals and antiques. Meanwhile, industry and architecture have maintained a quiet presence all along. From art to antiques, can revivals of the recent past inform the future of the district?

Guests:

A shortage of beds for Missouri inmates means a West Bottoms center for parolees and probationers will go back to being a minimum security prison.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

The Golden Ox, once the center of the Kansas City Stockyards in Missouri and one of the oldest restaurants in the area, is set to close Saturday night.

The steakhouse, a kitschy mix of cowtown and commerce, has been busy for the past couple weeks, in response to word getting out that it was closing.

The West Bottoms restaurant has struggled attracting folks to the area, especially since Kemper Arena stopped holding events, said Mike Holland, the Golden Ox general manager.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Frames have been used for centuries as decoration or to heighten the drama of a piece of artwork.

As part of an occasional KCUR series called Tools of the Trade — about artists and their relationships to the tools that make their work possible — we'll take a look at the complex creation of a very large frame.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

Students from the Armourdale community of Kansas City, Kan., refer to their neighborhood as the barrio.

Today the neighborhood is predominantly Hispanic, but it wasn’t always this way. Armourdale, which was one of the first Hispanic communities to form in Kansas City, Kan., in 1886, went through an era when Hispanics were a minority. 

J.S. Clark / Flickr--CC

The developer who wants to rehab Kemper Arena and turn it into a youth sports complex made a pitch for his company's plan to a downtown lunch club Wednesday afternoon.

Steve Foutch told the Kansas City Downtowners it's possible city council members could move forward with a plan that both preserves Kemper and gives the American Royal the new arena it wants.

"Our designs show both buildings can co-exist in the location," Foutch says. "It's all about the logistics of the operation."

CC: SA2.5

The future of Kansas City’s Kemper Arena is murky. The city council is considering two proposals. One, from the American Royal, would see it torn down and replaced. The other, from the development company Foutch Brothers, would rehab it as the centerpiece of a youth sports complex. But last week, urban activist Jase Wilson wrote an open letter to the council last week with a novel proposal: Turn the arena into the Midwest’s only arena specifically designed to host competitive video game tournaments.

The American Royal is sticking to its guns, insisting that Kemper Arena be torn down to make way for a new, smaller arena.

A council committee was looking favorably at a Foutch Brothers Developers' plan for a youth sports facility would save Kemper Arena. But the American Royal's plan now includes a youth sports aspect backed by Sporting Kansas City. And given that, plus disruption to the parking area and the annual barbecue contest, American Royal chairman Mariner Kemper says the old arena has to go.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

Within the old bones of big brick buildings like the Columbia Burlap & Bag Co., in Kansas City's West Bottoms, new businesses, artist studios and restaurants are finding success in an area that still looks like it belongs in the late 1800s.

One spot that's finding particular success is the 12th Street Bridge and the surrounding buildings. First Friday "Warehouse Weekends" and antique shops bring in thousands of visitors each month.

But it wasn't always this way. In fact, parts of the West Bottoms were practically deserted for nearly 40 years.

Cody Newill / KCUR

A new push for residential development in Kansas City's West Bottoms has some strong support and strong opposition.

Rancher and real estate developer Bill Haw started construction on a new apartment building at 1515 Genessee St., in July. The goal for the 11 unit complex is to draw families into the West Bottoms.

"There haven't been many families with young children moving back to the central core," Haw said. "I think that's an essential part of the transition to rebuilding the core of the city."

A Kansas City council committee responded favorably Thursday to a proposal to convert Kemper Arena into a youth sports complex, but it's too early to declare the aging arena safe from the wrecking ball.

Developer Steve Foutch told the council committee: there's no need to tear down Kemper to make way for a new, smaller American Royal complex, there's plenty of room for two separate arenas to coexist.

wikimedia commons

Of all the possible plans for Kemper Arena, the one that changes the building the least is also the least viable for the city.

"Doing nothing doesn't seem to work for anybody," Kansas City Councilman Ed Ford told members of the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee Thursday morning, kicking off a series of meetings to discuss Kemper's future.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

It's easy to forget about Kemper Arena.

Nestled down in the south end of the West Bottoms in Kansas City, Mo., the aging arena has seen better days. Since 2007, the Sprint Center has hosted virtually all the big-name events coming through town, leaving Kemper nearly inactive for long periods of time.

Gwen's River City Images / Flickr/CC

About four and a half decades ago, in a stunningly brief period of years, Kansas City built major public structures for air travelers, conventioneers and sports fans. All survive today, but one of them, sitting in the West Bottoms, is underutilized compared to the others.

Andrew Bossi / Flickr -- Creative Commons

  The three-day Gay Pride Festival opens Friday at 6 p.m. in Kansas City, Mo., this year in a new location — the West Bottoms.

Rick Bumgardner, who is the festival’s event co-coordinator, said relocating in the field near Kemper Arena offers ample parking, a trendy and up-and-coming location and a potential home for Pride in the future.

City of Kansas City, Mo.

There will be no blue ribbon citizens panel to decide the future of Kemper Arena. The Kansas City, Mo., city council Economic Development Committee has decided to tackle the matter itself.

Full Moon Productions

Each year the haunted houses in the West Bottoms open for the season during the months of September and October. Thousands of people flock to these enormous haunted attractions, which are some of the oldest and most successful haunted houses in the country.

But the haunted houses have brought more to the city than just terror. They have played a major role in the revitalization of the area. But as development takes off in the West Bottoms, some wonder whether seasonal entertainment like the haunted houses should be part of the area's future.

Wikipedia / Google Images -- CC

The West Bottoms is an industrial area directly west of downtown Kansas City, located at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers.  It is one of the oldest areas of the city, and the original home of two of the region's key industries: beef and railroads.

courtesy: David Hughes / Charlotte Street Foundation

Dolphin Gallery's John O'Brien had hinted about a change for months. But, now, it's official. Dolphin, the exhibition space and framing business in the West Bottoms, will close after its last show (slated to open May 17).

Laura Spencer / KCUR

David Ford is a painter, performance artist and provocateur. Ford also travels the world - to Mexico, Morocco, Guatemala, Cuba, and Turkey - for "on-site cultural studies."

Artist Wilbur Niewald, professor emeritus of painting at the Kansas City Art Institute, draws and paints from direct observation – what he sees around him.

courtesy of Dolphin Gallery

Archie Scott Gobber's work engages viewers as a partner in an ongoing dialogue. "Super Power" marks Gobber's first solo at the Dolphin since the gallery moved from the Crossroads to the West Bottoms.

Kansas City, MO – Archie Scott Gobber again takes a look at popular culture and politics, examining stark economic realities with gentle wit.