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Old 06-11-2016, 12:36 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,493,517 times
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So I have been in KC for a few days and thought I would share a few thoughts.

First. It's pretty amazing to see all the residential construction. I'm not sure it's any more than you see in most large cities, but it's cool to see it in person and it really feels like KC is just starting to get the ball rolling so the urban residential boom in KCMO could be incredible in another five years. It seems like things are rapidly filling in west of Grand, but east of Grand still needs to get something going.

The streetcar is a wild success. I does not matter what time of day, what day of the week etc, people are embracing the streetcar in a way that I never imagined. It's almost a bizarre tourist attraction within itself as people are going out of their way to ride it. You have a lot of people from the suburbs riding it as a fun toy and you know what? that's great. I overheard so many people talking about the city in such a positive way. It's as if they have never been downtown. They are getting off at stops and walking into Cosentinos "wow, I had no idea there was a nice grocery down here" I heard somebody say. They are getting lunch at cafes along the route and getting off at random stops and just exploring the city and they are all proud and excited about KC. They are walking, using transit and creating a general vibe and vibrancy that I have never seen in KC outside parts of the plaza and westport. The streetcars and packed and the entire streetcar corridor is coming alive. There are also plenty of people that you can tell live and work in the area as well. So it's not just those coming into the city to ride the train that are using it. The streetcar is awesome for KC and it needs to be extended to the plaza/umkc asap. I know they are pushing for this to happen.

Downtown KC during they day outside of the streetcar activity spots is still pretty quiet. KC has to be the quietest big city downtown in the country during business hours. There is just almost no traffic or anything. Even with the main drag though downtown (Grand) closed and many other street closures due to construction, there is almost no traffic and very little pedestrian activity on major roads like Grand and Broadway at 4pm on a weekday which is actually very odd. I really think this has to do with the lack of jobs in downtown. It's becoming mostly residential which means it's quiet during the day for a large downtown area. Downtown KC now desperately needs jobs, just like it desperately needed residents 15 years ago. You need a good mix. KC is starting to gain a lot of ground with more hotel room, but most of these new residents are probably commuting to suburban jobs.

On the flip side, downtown KC was bustling after hours. Thursday night the P&L District, crossroads, river market etc all were hopping. Tonight, Friday was really hopping. Just tons and tons of people everywhere, traffic, street vendors etc. Downtown KC is starting to really come alive at night (and during the day around streetcar stops).

That's all I have for now. Just thought I would share!
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Old 06-11-2016, 07:01 AM
 
1,298 posts, read 983,095 times
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It's crazy how Downtown has almost completely flip-flopped.

Give me a deLorean and I will go back to the 90s, and show executives of Sprint, AMC, etc, what Downtown will be like in the 2010's. Maybe they'll decide to hang around. Then I'll find the moment where Cerner decided to avoid downtown when bringing their zillions of development dollars to KC.

sigh.
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Old 06-11-2016, 09:30 AM
 
172 posts, read 98,498 times
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Bingo. Downtown jobs would be the one-two punch needed to complete the revitalization. I live just as close to downtown KC as the JoCo/MO suburbs, and there are noticeably more job opportunities in the 'burbs versus downtown. It'd be nice if these were at least equal, as I would enjoy working downtown. Still, I'm glad a former resident and now visitor is optimistic.

kcmo, you ought to check out some of the midtown developments too. 51st & Main will offer an attractive mixed use development. And just so the MO side doesn't get all the credit, you ought to see Park Place in the Leawood area. Unlike Prairie Fire, Park Place achieved much better density that actually encourages pedestrian activity. Heck, I'm even seeing limited but promising signs near 80th & Metcalf, which is a corridor that is ripe for higher density, mixed use projects.
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Old 06-11-2016, 10:10 PM
 
Location: KCMO (Plaza)
290 posts, read 230,070 times
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Great points all around, KCMO. Good observation on the vibrancy of downtown in the later hours of the day. It's amazing to see the switch occur from a more subdued environment during the day and then the emergence of a lot of foot traffic in the evening. Although I agree with many that the streetcar needs to be extend to the Plaza/UMKC to be more functional, it nonetheless provides a new view of downtown to say the least. Once desolate streets, especially near the North Loop that were decimated by urban renewal in the 1950s, are given new life from either riding in the streetcar through the area or just walking down the street and seeing people waiting to board at nearby stops.

It's funny you mention the job situation, my professional job is in Johnson County, but I plan to move to KCMO soon or at a later date. It's a good job and company, but unfortunately I would join the countless individuals engaging in a reverse commute in the Metro. On the other hand, the company I work at is considering a satellite office downtown similar to Henderson Engineers putting some workers at a space on top of the new Lead Bank in the Crossroads. Overall, we need more companies downtown again and hopefully it will happen. Personally, I'm hard on some of the aspects KC is lacking, but I believe it will continue to grow and may offer similar urban amenities the more urban city of St. Louis offers currently.
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Old 06-14-2016, 11:07 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,493,517 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycrite View Post
Bingo. Downtown jobs would be the one-two punch needed to complete the revitalization. I live just as close to downtown KC as the JoCo/MO suburbs, and there are noticeably more job opportunities in the 'burbs versus downtown. It'd be nice if these were at least equal, as I would enjoy working downtown. Still, I'm glad a former resident and now visitor is optimistic.

kcmo, you ought to check out some of the midtown developments too. 51st & Main will offer an attractive mixed use development. And just so the MO side doesn't get all the credit, you ought to see Park Place in the Leawood area. Unlike Prairie Fire, Park Place achieved much better density that actually encourages pedestrian activity. Heck, I'm even seeing limited but promising signs near 80th & Metcalf, which is a corridor that is ripe for higher density, mixed use projects.
I come to KC a few times a year, so it's not like I have not been there in a while. I was just impressed and am now a bit more optimistic about the streetcar and the city embracing the streetcar. Downtown KC still needs a lot of work. Most of it still lacks vibrancy even though there are plenty of areas that are hopping after hours.

KC really needs a bunch of stuff to happen for it feel like a vibrant urban city. When I was there, the weather was good, there were concerts at the Sprint Center and P&L District and there was an active major convention going on at Bartle. That combined with all the people still coming down just to ride the streetcar really helped the city feel like it had a pulse (at least along the streetcar line). Again seeing all the construction in person is impressive although KC has no more going on than most major downtown areas expect St Louis, Memphis etc. Hopefully downtown starts seeing some major infill east of Grand and in the North loop area. The area between Union Station and the River market also needs some well thought out and usable green space and bike friendly corridors. Hopefully the improvements to Grand will help get that going. The new Embassy Suites is a great project that will help Grand Ave a lot.

I actually spent a lot of time in the entire metro including KS side. I have seen the Leawood Park Place in person a few times. It's not bad. Personally, KC is just not very impressive to me outside of the River to Brookside corridor of KCMO plus maybe Briarcliff and Park Place. Actually most of the metro is sort of depressing in an OKC sort of way. It's just way too spread out. It feels more spread out than ever to me. There is a also a lot of retail blight even in newer suburban areas. There is just way to much retail space in metro KC and the metro continues to subsidize new development. Areas like 119th and Metcalf are not aging well at all with curbs and landscaping starting to look like it's not well maintained and much of the retail space gong to lower class C tenants. Surprising for an area with such good demographics. I saw in person why rebuilding Metcalf south into something other than a Lowes is impossible in the current landscape. Any new major retail in JoCo like what is proposed at 435 and Antioch is going to create mass decay in other areas of the county especially if it's STAR bonded forced development like Prarie Fire.

Overall though urban KCMO is really coming along. Lots of residential. When you include the entire corridor from the River to UMKC, it's quite impressive.

Extend the streetcar, put a park over I-670, get the Hyatt Hotel built and figure out some way to get some new office space built. Seriously, office space is going up again in almost every major downtown and KC has not only lost more downtown jobs than any other city, there is nothing going on that remotely suggest that companies are interested in being there on a large scale. It might take seven years (if ever) for a 250,000 sq ft building to go up next the sprint center? By downtown standards, that's a small building and even it's nearly a decade out? Crazy. I think that will change though. I has to. Urban KCMO will be a very different place in another ten years and I hope jobs are a part of it.
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Old 06-14-2016, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MO
481 posts, read 579,989 times
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There has to be a tipping point sometime in the hopefully near future for new commercial space with so many buildings going residential. Currently, Commerce Tower and Ten Main are going residential, with Traders to follow. That really only leaves a few high rise Class A towers left. 1KCP, Town Pavilion, 1201 Walnut, City Center, Commerce, and the US bank tower are about it in the loop. I work in 1KCP and I believe it is about full. With Great Plains Energy purchasing Westar Energy, the tower should completely fill up. Town Pavilion and 1201 also seem pretty full. I know City Center is only about 1/2 full, not sure about Commerce and US Bank towers.


So yeah, w/o a developer willing to build a spec tower, it's going to take some time to find enough tenants to sign up and then wait several years to move. I would think a spec tower, even if only 10 stories, would fill up pretty fast and then maybe convince a developer to build out a 20-25 story tower?
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Old 06-14-2016, 06:37 PM
 
172 posts, read 98,498 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
I actually spent a lot of time in the entire metro including KS side. I have seen the Leawood Park Place in person a few times. It's not bad. Personally, KC is just not very impressive to me outside of the River to Brookside corridor of KCMO plus maybe Briarcliff and Park Place. Actually most of the metro is sort of depressing in an OKC sort of way. It's just way too spread out. It feels more spread out than ever to me. There is a also a lot of retail blight even in newer suburban areas. There is just way to much retail space in metro KC and the metro continues to subsidize new development. Areas like 119th and Metcalf are not aging well at all with curbs and landscaping starting to look like it's not well maintained and much of the retail space gong to lower class C tenants. Surprising for an area with such good demographics. I saw in person why rebuilding Metcalf south into something other than a Lowes is impossible in the current landscape. Any new major retail in JoCo like what is proposed at 435 and Antioch is going to create mass decay in other areas of the county especially if it's STAR bonded forced development like Prarie Fire.
While I agree KC is too spread out, I don't see why Metcalf south must become a Lowe's or other big box retailer. Home Depot already exists across the street. Heck, why does it even need to be retail? As you mentioned, KC has too much retail development as is. Why then is Metcalf south doomed to be a Lowe's? Why not make Metcalf south something that promotes density? It could be a mixed use development, where some urban-like seeds are finally planted on the JoCo side. It could be another Mission Farms, Park Place or even Mission, KS.

The corridor beyond Metcalf south mall, from old OP all the way to I-435, could be planned with density and walkability in mind. That corridor is worse than being spread out; it's hollowed out. There are plenty of near-vacant strip malls that are dying to be repurposed, and they don't want to be big box stores.
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Old 06-14-2016, 06:46 PM
 
172 posts, read 98,498 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post
Seriously, office space is going up again in almost every major downtown and KC has not only lost more downtown jobs than any other city, there is nothing going on that remotely suggest that companies are interested in being there on a large scale. It might take seven years (if ever) for a 250,000 sq ft building to go up next the sprint center? By downtown standards, that's a small building and even it's nearly a decade out? Crazy. I think that will change though. I has to. Urban KCMO will be a very different place in another ten years and I hope jobs are a part of it.
I hope so too. The question is, when will businesses actually choose to open for business downtown? I'm waiting (hoping) for some big announcement that never happens. Maybe KC will be an inverted metro where jobs are in suburbia and residential is concentrated downtown. That would be funny and sad.
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:11 PM
 
Location: First Hill, Seattle
5,469 posts, read 5,774,125 times
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Originally Posted by nycrite View Post
I hope so too. The question is, when will businesses actually choose to open for business downtown? I'm waiting (hoping) for some big announcement that never happens. Maybe KC will be an inverted metro where jobs are in suburbia and residential is concentrated downtown. That would be funny and sad.
I did that for two years, living in the city and commuting to the burbs, first Lee's Summit now Northland. I really can't stand the drivers here and while the commutes weren't awful time wise, dealing with the awful driving of others wore on me as well as the poor way the roads are laid out in some areas. I finally succumbed to suburbia but my heart will always be in urban neighborhoods. Ideally I wouldn't even have a car. But that's not realistic in this city for most people and having a 5 minute commute where I can literally bike to work was too much of a benefit even if it means having to drive downtown which isn't as much of a production as it is in most other cities. I wish my employer would relocate downtown but most of my coworkers would probably disagree.
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Old 06-14-2016, 10:19 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,493,517 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shindig View Post
There has to be a tipping point sometime in the hopefully near future for new commercial space with so many buildings going residential. Currently, Commerce Tower and Ten Main are going residential, with Traders to follow. That really only leaves a few high rise Class A towers left. 1KCP, Town Pavilion, 1201 Walnut, City Center, Commerce, and the US bank tower are about it in the loop. I work in 1KCP and I believe it is about full. With Great Plains Energy purchasing Westar Energy, the tower should completely fill up. Town Pavilion and 1201 also seem pretty full. I know City Center is only about 1/2 full, not sure about Commerce and US Bank towers.


So yeah, w/o a developer willing to build a spec tower, it's going to take some time to find enough tenants to sign up and then wait several years to move. I would think a spec tower, even if only 10 stories, would fill up pretty fast and then maybe convince a developer to build out a 20-25 story tower?
Right, but the time line of this is really really long for very little added office space.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nycrite View Post
While I agree KC is too spread out, I don't see why Metcalf south must become a Lowe's or other big box retailer. Home Depot already exists across the street. Heck, why does it even need to be retail? As you mentioned, KC has too much retail development as is. Why then is Metcalf south doomed to be a Lowe's? Why not make Metcalf south something that promotes density? It could be a mixed use development, where some urban-like seeds are finally planted on the JoCo side. It could be another Mission Farms, Park Place or even Mission, KS.

The corridor beyond Metcalf south mall, from old OP all the way to I-435, could be planned with density and walkability in mind. That corridor is worse than being spread out; it's hollowed out. There are plenty of near-vacant strip malls that are dying to be repurposed, and they don't want to be big box stores.
Right, I meant if it's going to be retail, a big box and big parking lot like Lowes or Walmart is all developers can get because the area is so over retailed and over subsidized. Mixed use would be ideal, but because of the economic landscape of suburban retail in KC, it's nearly impossible to make the numbers work for a true mixed use project. It takes incentives to make a project like that happen and when so much greenfield retail is heavily subsided and forces when the market can't even support it, that makes creating infill mixed use projects like Metcalf South and Mission Mall (Gateway) impossible. They need a lot of retail so they can tif everything. Mixed use is just not going to happen along metcalf because of all the new subsidized dependent out south. The best North OP can hope for is probably to clear the land and just build higher density apartments on old retail sites. But there is a big NIMBY factor in JoCo for higher density residential. Other than a few apartments, I don't see much changing over the next 15 years at least. I do think much of Overland Park and other areas of JoCo will begin to see some pretty big blight issues in the near future. Like I said, 119th and Metcalf is already showing significant signs already.

Last edited by kcmo; 06-14-2016 at 10:28 PM..
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