Kansas City’s streetcar will be a reality by 2015. Downtown residents approved the raising of sales and property taxes, in addition to federal and city dollars, to fund streetcar construction and operation. This is a monumental moment for Kansas City that will lead to new developments, increased economic activity, and new residents attracted to downtown.
Kansas City created a downtown tax district in August that allowed for taxes to be raised within the district only by the voters in the district. This allowed tax increases to be voted on by the district, as opposed to the entire city. Voting sided with the increase 62-38 and funding is now complete, with city and federal dollars were already in place. Jackson County could implement a 1-cent sales tax increase for a regional system, but it would replace the city’s tax, as opposed to being on top of it.
Much of our built, living environment is focused around the automobile. Streets have too many lanes, parking lots as far as the eye can see, and no sidewalks or bike lanes to be found. In an attempt to bring more attention to bike and pedestrian traffic on Kansas City’s streets, Make Grand Grand released a plan to transform Grand Avenue from a six-lane concrete behemoth to a bike and pedestrian friendly destination for residents and tourists.
In an example of the Make Grand Grand plan, Better Block temporarily built one block of complete street last Friday. Better Block, with the help of local groups, creates temporary, block-long complete streets with pedestrian malls, bike lanes, and other amenities. Kansas City’s version included borrowed plants to green the street, temporary curbs and street markings, all on a First Friday.
More apartments are coming to downtown Kansas City as Cordish Co. announced plans for two new complexes to be built starting in 2013. The market for housing in downtown is tight, with high demand and short supply, detailed in a previous post here. A 23-story tower and redevelopment of a 12-story office building would add some 318 apartment units downtown.
The new 250-unit tower proposed for the northwest corner of 13th and Walnut streets would be the first high-rise built downtown since the 17-story H&R Block headquarters opened in 2006. And at about 230 feet, it would be the tallest residential building ever built from scratch downtown.
A recent study from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) shows the terrible cost of obesity to our society:
Obesity is responsible for an additional $190 billion a year in healthcare costs, or one-fifth of all healthcare spending, Reuters reported last month, plus billions more in higher health insurance premiums, lost productivity and absenteeism.
The study goes on to point out there is no silver bullet. No single approach or program that can come close to slowing, let alone reversing, the trend. The IOM recommends a multifaceted approach to curing America’s obesity problems and make our country healthier in the future.
Kansas City is one step closer to building a streetcar from the River Market to Crown Center. The fixed-rail transit would be the first for the region and an economic engine for our city. A recent judge ruling opens the way for a financing mechanism to be utilized, and with any project this large, the financing the biggest hurdle.
A city-wide sales or property tax could finance the streetcar and would be the most straightforward mechanism. Kansas City covers a large area with a wide variety of boroughs. Some residents in other parts of the city may not want to pay a tax to build transit they may never use. Many businesses would also be against paying for a system that will benefit a fraction of the city residents and businesses.
The Main Streets of small-town America prospered with their barbershop, diner, grocer, and hardware stores. These streets bring back a sense of their youth for many Americans. These streets fulfilled needs of many entire towns and were also a place to waste away hours at a time.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, shopping malls and strip malls began attracting the car dependent community. This took its toll on Main Streets across the country. Shoppers that once strolled Main Streets now parked their cars in front of the big-box stores.
The South Plaza is developing as a pedestrian friendly neighborhood and adding businesses. South Plaza is the area surrounding Main Street from Ward Parkway to about 52nd Street. The area is already home to the KC Library, Accurso’s/Planet Sub, and the Il Centro/Minsky’s/Eggct trifecta. The density of the neighborhood leads to an area where walkers, bikes, and cars get along very well.
South Plaza just landed another big development. A $39 million commercial and residential building is slated to be built on the northwest corner of 51st and Main Street. The new building will house commercial stores at ground level and three floors of apartments above.
The Kansas City metro is mostly comprised of single-family homes. The fence, yard, neighbors, and such. With baby boomers retiring and many young professionals not yet getting married, the demand for single-family homes is on the decline. Demand is increasing for housing that is not single-family: apartments, condominiums, assisted-living homes, etc. The housing market is responding to these changes in preferences. Kansas City must invest in building different forms of housing to attract the residents and businesses that make a city great.
With the baby boomers came economic growth and expansion into the suburbs of America. The 80s, 90s, and 00s saw ever increasing home values and bigger homes. Baby boomers are quickly becoming empty-nesters, scuttling demand for the 4- and 5-bedroom homes that once were so popular.
Downtown Kansas City is experiencing a housing boom likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Demand is high due to the reemergence of the downtown/Crossroads area and supply is limited due to economic factors. Kansas City is exploring options to bring more housing to downtown, a sure sign the city center is leading the recovery.
Demand for downtown housing is at record levels due mainly to the explosion of the downtown and Crossroads areas. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is a masterpiece of Kansas City. Many metropolitan residents are exploring the area as they never have before. The walkability the area, numerous restaurants, and central location are leading the increase in demand. Baby-boomers and young adults alike are attracted to downtown: Continue reading
A plan has been introduced to tear down Kemper Arena and replace it with a smaller arena for American Royal activities. Kemper has outlived its useful life as most events have moved to Sprint Center. Kemper’s storied history ranges from NBA and NHL teams to a roof collapse in 1979 during a severe storm. The location may not have been the best, but there is no denying Kemper’s impact on Kansas City.
Kansas City, Missouri performed an engineering study to determine the most ideal location to build an arena and concluded downtown would have the most economic benefit to the city. Kansas City Stockyards Company donation of land and a generous monetary donation from R. Crosby Kemper Sr. of $3.2 million relegated Kemper to the West Bottoms, Kansas City’s industrial and stockyard area. These incentives helped build Kemper but also cost the city millions in lost revenue due to events being drawn to the bottoms as opposed to downtown. Many years later the city corrected this by building Sprint Center where Kemper should have been built in the first place.