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Old 01-21-2011, 02:54 PM
 
12 posts, read 24,983 times
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My husband is taking a job in downtown KC this spring. We currently live in Chicago--very much the urban lifestyle--which we love.

Is it possible to raise kids in the city in Kansas City? My daughter will be starting kindergarten this fall. Looking at other threads, it looks like the 'burbs are the better choice...but we will miss city living. Our son is almost 2 and will need daycare.

So, my question(s) is/are: Are there neighborhoods you would suggest for safety and walkability for groceries, schools, etc? How are the KCK and KCMO schools, which one is better and would you send your kids??? Or am I best to look at Lee's Summit or Liberty and accept living in the 'burbs???

Thanks so much!

Jenn
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Old 01-21-2011, 03:26 PM
 
Location: Tower Grove East, St. Louis, MO
12,063 posts, read 28,896,405 times
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Brookside and 39th St West are probably the two city neighborhoods that you would like best (My SO and I moved from Wicker Park in 2009) but schools are a major concern here. The neighborhood schools are simply not a realistic option for anyone who places even the smallest importance on education.

I certainly don't profess to be an expert, but there are magnet options if you are willing to do the leg work. A coworker sends her pre-k kid to a magnet Montessori in Brookside called Border Star and I know they've been pleased with the school. I did a google search for you to look for reference materials about the schools and their options, but I found shockingly little. They certainly don't make it easy.

If you find that you're not willing or able to jump through the magnet hoops or if you're still unsure of the quality, there are plenty of private options. For suburbs with at least some level of urbanity in combination with great schools look at the older parts of Lee's Summit, Parkville, Fairway, Mission, and downtown (old) Overland Park.

Feel free to ask any follow up questions and best of luck!!
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Old 01-21-2011, 03:30 PM
 
Location: Old Hyde Park, Kansas City,MO
1,145 posts, read 2,177,517 times
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If you want to stay in the City you could try to see if you can get your daughter in this French Charter school, it's suppose to be amazing.

Académie Lafayette | K-8 French Language Immersion, Charter Public School
I guess they teach in all French or something like that, if one of your children gets in, other sibilngs are able to get in as well without using the lottery system. You have to get your application in before February 11th just to let you know.

What neighborhood in Chicago did you live in?

The Plaza, Brookside, Fairway, Mission Hills would be somewhat comparable to living on the North Shore of Chicago like Winnetka/Northbrook/Skokie in terms of tree lined streets and nice older homes.

Last edited by brewcrew1000; 01-21-2011 at 03:55 PM..
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Old 01-21-2011, 03:56 PM
 
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We live in Albany Park (3200W, 4800N). Is Lee's Summit walkable?? If so, where should we look for a home? It looks like the schools are great--especially compared to CPS! Thanks for the info!
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Old 01-21-2011, 07:15 PM
 
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Default Brookside

I would recommend Brookside (64113) for your urban loving family. It is a very unique part of town with beautiful older homes, walkable with plenty of nearby shopping, bike/walking paths, with close proximity to Loose Park, the Country Club Plaza and convenient to downtown. It is home to many young families who enjoy friendly neighbors and the sense of cameraderie created by its numerous community events.

Google brooksidekc.org for information and a list of private schools.

For some reason, I can't get the link to post.
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:49 AM
 
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Former Chicagoan here...if you like Albany Park, you will love Brookside. I have only visited Brookside a few times, (we're suburban Kansas now) but I really liked it. I thought it had kind of an Evanston feel to it. It's a destination place for me, a nice day out for lunch, window shopping, and just wandering around a nice urban area. I miss that. Definitely check out Brookside.
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:30 AM
 
Location: Old Hyde Park, Kansas City,MO
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The downtown part of lees summit is defintely walkable but its really only walkable to bars and little shops,government buildings and i believe there is one or two restaurants as well.

Brookside is walkable in that there are two grocery stores, a pharmacy, 3-4 bars, 6 or 7 good restaurants, coffee shops, liquor store, coffee shops and a little dime stores
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:06 AM
 
Location: Middle America
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Also a former Chicago resident, now a Kansas City transplant. I lived in Rogers Park prior (though not immediately prior) to moving to Kansas City. My SO and I lived in the Plaza and in Waldo (neighborhoods that flank the aforementioned Brookside) when we lived in Kansas City proper, and eventually bought a home in Lee's Summit.

We don't have children, but if/when we do, the Lee's Summit community will be a great place for them to attend public school, which is something I can't say for KC's two most urban school districts, KCMO and Center. There are wonderful, urban, walkable, neighborhoods in Kansas City, but unless you are prepared to go the magnet or private school route, schooling is a major deterrent. It's the black eye of KC.

Lee's Summit is the only suburb I've ever lived in, anywhere, so it's the only suburban living experience I can speak to in the KC metro. It's fairly sprawling, which makes parts of it walkable, parts of it less so. The community has in recent years completed a major revitalizing project in its historic, late-1800s downtown, and it's full of locally-run, independent merchants, restaurants, bars, cafes, city government offices, local civic organizations, newspaper offices, functional Amtrak depot, a thriving farmer's market, and the like. It's set up for pedestrian traffic, nicely, and the downtown council puts a lot of time and effort into creating very regular family-friendly community events and activities year-round. Lots of parades, festivals, street fairs, a summer free public concert series every Friday night in the park, sidewalk sales, lots of customer appreciation days in the downtown businesses, Thursday night Ladies' Night wine nights at downtown businesses, bike rides, charity walks/runs, etc. They're obviously very committed to maintaining a very community- and family-oriented "hometown"-style feeling in the core of a community that's grown quite large and sprawly. We live near the downtown, so we find the community to be very walkable. The only thing I can't get to on foot from my house is the grocery store, and that's more because it's on the other side of a highway than because it's incredibly far.

Other parts of Lee's Summit seem to be less walkable. There are parts of town that are a lake community that are pretty separated from the rest of the town. There are big-box type lifestyle centers for shopping that are definitely not situated to be reached easily on foot and not designed to be. There are the various ubiquitous strip malls containing lots of different businesses situated along quite a few of the main highways that run through the community, and most of them, you'd have to drive to. There is a "new urbanism" type development ongoing on the very outskirts of town to the west called New Longview, and it's situated right off the reservoir that lies between Lee's Summit and Kansas City/Grandview. It's pretty sweet, but it's so new that all the amenities have yet to fill in, meaning that you still need to drive for a lot of staples and basic needs. It definitely doesn't feel urban, and won't, to somebody who's lived in Chicago, but it's got a nice enough feel.

Lee's Summit also has a very good parks and rec system with, I think, almost thirty different city parks. The largest, Legacy Park, is almost 700 acres and holds all the city youth soccer, softball, community baseball and football facilities, has a lake, hiking trails, shelters, ampitheatre, and also large community center with a full gym and aquatic center that's very inexpensive for residential memberships.

If your preference is urban, it's difficult to say if a community like LS will ultimately appeal to you. To me, a person who was raised very rural/small town, and did the urban thing as an adult before experiencing the suburbs as a place to live, Lee's Summit seems to be more a large suburban community that strives in some regards to retain a small town feel than one that's going for an urban feel. But in my estimation, it seems to be a nice place for a family, and, depending on where you choose to live, can be very walkable.

Kansas City itself is a wonderful place for a family, as well, or would be, if they could get their public schools up to snuff.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Middle America
37,378 posts, read 45,390,117 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewcrew1000 View Post
The downtown part of lees summit is defintely walkable but its really only walkable to bars and little shops,government buildings and i believe there is one or two restaurants as well.

Brookside is walkable in that there are two grocery stores, a pharmacy, 3-4 bars, 6 or 7 good restaurants, coffee shops, liquor store, coffee shops and a little dime stores

Actually, downtown Lee's Summit has a whopping 19 establishments that are restaurants, bars/bars & grills, and cafes, although one listed in the downtown directory is actually a liquor store, and one is a Dairy Queen (they don't list the Sonic, though). So that brings it to 17 non-fast-food places to eat or drink in the downtown. At any rate, def. more than "One or two restaurants."

Total businesses in downtown Lee's Summit:

1 heating and cooling repair
14 salons, barber shops, and day spas
8 boutiques and jewelry shops
4 shops for antiques, gifts, and collectibles (listed, I can think of three more antique shops that aren't on the downtown listing)
2 florists
17 restaurants, bars & grills, and cafes (not counting convenience store/liquor store, or fast food
2 fast food options
1 hardware/lumber store
3 health/wellness clinics (I noticed they don't include several of the doctor's/dentist offices, for some reason, but both my doctor and dentist are walkable from downtown)
7 home furnishing and decor stores (most of them locally run or franchised)
4 music/fine arts-related businesses (including a dance studio, two art galleries, and a pottery studio)
2 non-chain office suppliers and print shops
1 independent book store
1 cigar shop
1 dance supply store (connected, I think, to the dance studio)
2 sporting goods stores (nonchain, mostly apparel for local high schools and KC professional athletics stuff)
1 Irish import store
1 cooking supply store/mini culinary center with classes
2 wine shops/wine bars
1 thrift shop
1 clock/watch repair outfit
1 scrapbooking store
1 bike shop
1 martial arts studio

Off the top of my head, at least three fashion boutiques that aren't on the list, a travel agent, and two newspaper offices are also downtown, in addition to city hall and the post office. Oh, also, a non-chain pharmacy.

The only things downtown is missing, in my opinion, are a grocery store, and a library. But the Midcontinent Public Library branch is in a crummy location just off a strip mall on a frontage road along Hwy 50...semi-walkable to one neighborhood, though, I suppose. And all the grocery stores seem to also be just off main highways.

Anyhow, other than that, there is actually much more, business-wise, in downtown LS than just a few little shops and a restaurant or two.

There's loads more retail, too, out in the Summit Fair and Summit Woods shopping centers (your Target, your Dick's Sporting Goods, your Best Buy, Borders, Petco, Old Navy, Kohl's, JC Penney, Macy's, shoe store chains and chain restaurants, etc.), and elsewhere in town, but downtown's definitely more than just a block of random shops.

Not to quibble, but with all this stuff sitting about two blocks from where I'm typing this, I thought it merited mention. Sorry, OP, for the treatise on the breakdown of walkable businesses in a part of the metro you may or may not be interested in, but felt compelled to point out misinformation in the event that other readers are misled.
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Old 01-23-2011, 01:27 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,994 posts, read 20,625,270 times
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Don't forget that Lee's Summit has the largest new urbanism project in the metro (longview farms) and some smaller ones like Arbor Walk. Longview Farms is nice if you want suburban and new, but more walkable. Plus it's near a large recreational lake and the community college.

But Brookside is KC's gem. It just doesn't get much better than Brookside when it comes to family living in a more urban environment. You just have to deal with the schools, but that is something many large cities have to deal with, even in nicer urban core neighborhoods.
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