Status and future of the River Market area??

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Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby kc-vino » Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:49 am

It is my hope that we can discuss the status and future development of the River Market.....For example, is their an overall improvement in the area when compared to a year ago?  Consider variables like street activity, services, nightlife, community, events, eating, etc. 

Has the River Market area added energy and services or has these two variables decreased?  And discuss this with the whole area in mind (From Landmark lofts to Columbus park, river to right over the highway)

The reason I ask this question, is I have wondered as of late whether the River Market has bettered itself as fast as other districts in downtown (crossroads, quality hill, etc).  Or has the RM started to be out competed by other districts in close proximity?  It has added more people and more business but is their more heartbeat? 

What is the next step to pump up the River Market even further?  What is in the pipeline?  Everybodies thoughts?!!?!?!?
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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby chrizow » Tue Oct 31, 2006 11:58 am

i am not a RM resident, but here is my impression:

i think the RM was probably the first neighborhood in KC to experience a substantial loft boom - and it is still going!  the downtown forum reveals several large projects in the works. 

i think it will continue to build density, but i hope some of the surface lots can be dealt with.  further, i think it should continue to grow eastward and fully integrate columbus park into the mix.  sadly, the noose of freeways down there fatally impairs any hopes for seamless urbanity, but if the area is cool enough, people will traverse the distance and psychological barriers of the highways, methinks. 

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby kc-vino » Tue Oct 31, 2006 12:19 pm

True it was the first neighborhood to do the loft boom if not Quality Hill.  The Rivermaket has added people but the nightlife and street activity and overall energy have not increase at the same rate in my opinion. 

Possible variables to consider, the heavy conversion from rental properties to condo properties might have taken some of the energy out of the area.  More business professionals, empty nesters, married couples.....less entry level workers, artists, those that would work in a local establishment waiting tables, cooking, in a gallery etc. 

Also is the River Market capturing the business and interests of downtown residents (specifically those with in the loop) to the same degree that the crossroads district does?  If one lives in the Chamber lofts or many parts of Quality hill it is a couple minute difference whether you take a cab/walk to the crossroads or the rivermarket. 
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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby KCMax » Tue Oct 31, 2006 12:33 pm

What is holding the River Market back? I greatly enjoy that part of town, but really feel like its not utilizing its potential. 
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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby chrizow » Tue Oct 31, 2006 12:37 pm

there are plenty of residents down there to make for a pretty bustling street life, but i think that people who live there, god bless 'em, drive everywhere like they are in a condo in leawood.  obviously staubio is the exception ( :)) but i really do think it's a problem.  it's a self-fulfilling prophecy - "no one walks around.  it's scary and desolate.  therefore i will not walk around either."  while the RM has more ped activity than most other areas of downtown, the level of street activity belies the concentration of residents. 

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby LenexatoKCMO » Tue Oct 31, 2006 12:44 pm

chrizow wrote:the level of street activity belies the concentration of residents. 


That could probably be said of any of the downtown neighborhoods.  I am pretty sure that there are a lot more people living in the xroads than one would likely guess based upon the street activity.  I think the cause is twofold: 1) lack of a complete set of amenities including foodstores, drugstores, hardware stores, etc. and 2) the rest of the city tends to make it necessary for those of us that live downtown to continue to operate cars.  Many of us that live DT still have jobs and lots of friends and family who live out beyond easy transit coverage and thus will continue to use our cars on an everyday basis. 

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby kc-vino » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:18 pm

chrizow wrote:there are plenty of residents down there to make for a pretty bustling street life, but i think that people who live there, god bless 'em, drive everywhere like they are in a condo in leawood.  obviously staubio is the exception ( :)) but i really do think it's a problem.  it's a self-fulfilling prophecy - "no one walks around.  it's scary and desolate.  therefore i will not walk around either."  while the RM has more ped activity than most other areas of downtown, the level of street activity belies the concentration of residents. 




I wanted somebody else to say it because I didn't want to come across as negative and lead the discussion right away in that manner but I strongly agree with you Chrizow. 
Their are a couple of variables and set backs to take note of with one major one being the demise of the Cup and Saucer.  This place REALLY served as the heart and soul of the RM IMO.  It helped to spread out the RM by taking its nightlife and restaurant energy to Delaware, which makes sense because Delaware is argueable one of the main streets of the RM.  Many times I wonder if rent is way to high in the Rivermarket.  When walking around last night I counted 3 empty store fronts from 3rd street to 5th on Delaware....not good
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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby staubio » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:24 pm

Good questions.

I feel like the River Market is better than it was.  I actually felt like the nightlife scene was a bit better when Kabal was closed.  Dos Hombres helped a lot.  On some nights, you'd see a crowd of aging hipsters sipping margaritas there, faux-luxurious duders and dude-ettes piling into Vivace, laid back potpourri piling into Harry's and the biker types on the patio listening to blues at Winslow's.  The crowd is more diverse but I think there are more people on the streets than there were. 

I think Chriz is right... and I've always had that complaint.  People still treat the neighborhood as a place to find a cool living space but treat it like it is their drive in/drive out subdivision.  Until people go out of their way to support stuff in the neighborhood, that isn't going to change.  Sadly, I'd say that of every 10 people in the bar, 9 of them came from outside the neighborhood.  We've got to take care of our own first.

In terms of the Crossroads seeming to overtake the River Market -- I'm not sure.  It is easy to feel like nothing is changing when you are so intimately familiar with an area.  I agree, though, that the Crossroads looks more appealing all of the time.  When I was in the market, I wasn't that attracted to the Crossroads but things like Bulldog, JP, Willy's, etc, make it seem like it has tremendous momentum.

I think we need the mixed uses.  I think the market needs to become more central to the neighborhood and keep things open at night.  There needs to be life around the entire periphery of the City Market, not just a block on the south.  Delaware and Walnut were so disconnected that they might as well have been in different neighborhoods and I don't know how you fix that.  Infill one of those dreadful lots so that 5th street actually connects through and get Blue Nile to open more than just the weekends for a start.

It is frustrating.  The neighborhood is adjusting.  The key is that we're about to get a huge shot in the arm from Cold Storage -- NEW residents in an otherwise dead spot.  This might help connect Columbus Park and the Bridgeworks area.  It'll also demystify the transit park and ride, where I've seen more and more young professionals using the bus.  We've got townhomes coming in for Bridgeworks phase II and we'll be solidifying other properties with more owners.  All good stuff.

So, yeah, I guess it is sorta in limbo right now just because it might be growing up.  People need to support it, residents first, and I think it'll be what we want it to be.

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby Tosspot » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:30 pm

I'll say that it's about my favorite place in this city to photograph.

About the drive-in/drive-out mentality...that's not just in the River Market, that's how basically all of Kansas City is at present. Give it ten years time and I think that perniciousness will be lessened somewhat.
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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby macnw » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:45 pm

The majority of big cities people drive in and out of. Of course there are a few exceptions. Kansas City is no exception. Until there are viable alternative, what are people supposed to do? I think the City Market is under utilized. That is the centerpiece of the River Market. It has the capacity to generate interaction between the neighboorhoods and residents. How heavily is the City Market advertised? Should be a greater emphasis on ethnic options available. Have some ethnic events in the market? Opportunities need to be created in order to get people to walk around. People will probably drive from outlying areas. Maybe keeping the market open later in the evening would cater to working individuals?

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby kc-vino » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:01 pm

I think an important trade off is the resident versus services.  If their isn't the capacity of local residents requiring deodorant, tampons, toilet paper, bread, milk, beer, etc at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night their won't be this service store provided.  One of these would do great in my opinion on Delaware, where it could benefit from 400 residents in a two block radius.  Once this store comes in you will see more people walking with groceries two blocks away.  Who will get in their car when they can walk from 3rd street to 4th street to get a utility item.  But if their isn't that capacity to support a store like that yet you get what you arguably experience right now in the RM.....a lack of services which result in a lack of street activity.  What if we had a street like 39th street running right down Delaware. 

I think a big key is encouraging people to shop locally.  It is upsetting how many residents I see unloading their cars after work with Costco boxes or price chopper bags.  I'm glad they got 3 weeks of groceries in some big box retailer north of the river or Mission Kansas.  When they could have gotten plenty of that stuff daily after work, and met some neighbors on the way while shopping.

Even if you had unlimited money to blow on local groceries after 8 p.m. you couldn't buy anything if you stuck to the close borders of the Rivermarket, your closest option is Grand Slam and we all know that is limited in many ways.
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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby chrizow » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:09 pm

i could (and would) eat entirely on the food available at the city market and the many shops flanking it - and be 500% healthier for it! 

but yeah, if you eat Lunchables and Red Baron pizzas and that kind of garbage, you'll need to go to Costco, westport sunfresh, the brookside groceries, or up north.

it should also be noted that Cosentino's will be opening in the P+L District next year, which should take care of the grocery/drugstore needs of the RM/DT/Xroads crowd for a while.

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby staubio » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:17 pm

chrizow wrote:i could (and would) eat entirely on the food available at the city market and the many shops flanking it - and be 500% healthier for it! 

but yeah, if you eat Lunchables and Red Baron pizzas and that kind of garbage, you'll need to go to Costco, westport sunfresh, the brookside groceries, or up north.

it should also be noted that Cosentino's will be opening in the P+L District next year, which should take care of the grocery/drugstore needs of the RM/DT/Xroads crowd for a while.


...and unfortunatly, this is most people's opinion of "groceries" and this is why downtown isn't good enough without a store, regardless of the fact that you can eat better and get everything you need downtown already.

I agree with the fact that the City Market needs to be more Central.  It should NEVER be dark and quiet like it is every night.  It should be like the Kansas City Live block -- people mingling in the middle all of the time, ethnic and quiant restaurants around the edges, more food vendors, etc.  Many of the shops, like the Wine Cellar, Habashi House, etc, are open most days but close at 5 or 6.  By the time a resident gets home from work, the place is dead.

Perhaps we need to start a "friends of the River Market" recurring event where we all gather and drink beer from River Market purveyors and then buy strange Asian groceries and yummy tofu meals and such.

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby Tosspot » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:18 pm

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby scooterj » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:33 pm

I may not be 500% healthy but about 90% of the food I eat (including dining out) comes from that neighborhood.

I live there and do have a car but I only use it for long trips.   So not all of us drive everywhere. I actually kind of think that is a myth perpetuated by outsiders who see all the surface lots.   I don't know of anyone, nor do I see anyone, who lives there and uses their car to get to other locations there.   Most of the people who live there do not work in that neighborhood, and most of the people you see there during the daytime do not live there.   I see the locals out on foot at all times of day or night.

I really like the clustering of bars and nightlife stratching from Harry's to Minsky's and patronize those places pretty much every night of the week.   I have noticed though a distinct dropoff in people out on the sidewalks on Friday and Saturday nights since Skybox oppened, and I have heard some people say they don't feel safe being out at night around 5th & Walnut whenever Skybox is busy.

I was never a fan of The Cup & Saucer so don't miss it at all other than not having a place directly on my path to work where I can stop for coffee anymore.    But the void left there is starting to get on my nerves and I really hope someone leases that space soon -- and keeps it as either a bar or restaurant.

The various bar managers are very excited about the opening of Cold Storage Lofts , the next phase of Bridgeworks, and the eventual projects along 2nd Street.  Their nighttime customer case is set to nearly much double as these places open.
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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby knucklehead » Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:20 pm

you guys know a lot more about the river market than I do, but I think the development of the KC Southern Railyard is a big deal. When is work going to start on that?

Hopefully developing that area will spur more residential to the south of that site.

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby loftguy » Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:40 pm

The KC Southern site is due to be purchased in January by the Morgan Development Group out of Houston.  They plan 330 market rate apartments in 4 story buildings.  Construction to take roughly 16 months.

There may also be a couple of other buildings developed on the east end of the property by local interests.  Perhaps an office building and a condo building.

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby loftguy » Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:55 pm

Additional thots.......  the RiverMkt has been continuously improving for 20 years, since the first lofts were developed at 2nd and Wyandotte. 

The city market has improved dramatically over the past 2 years since the new management took over.  They are too dark at night.  A catch 22.  Too few customers to stay open at night/not open at night so the customers don't come.  Hopefully when Bo Lings opens there this winter it will break the pattern and increase the life.

Delaware Street's future is exciting.  Several buildings are about to go condo and that is holding up the reuse of Cup & Saucers old space and other storefronts.  Hope the developer is to sell those storefronts so that the business owners can control their future.  Can't wait to see what pops up there.

RiverMarket and Xroads compliment each other.  River Market is kind of a small town on the edge of downtown.  Xroads is the hip and hustle.  River Market has about 1,300 residents and xroads has about half that poplulation in an area nearly three times the size.  One has been in a state of continuous, change for 20 plus years and the other is in hyper shift.  It's all good.

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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby scooterj » Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:10 pm

loftguy wrote:The city market has improved dramatically over the past 2 years since the new management took over.  They are too dark at night.  A catch 22.  Too few customers to stay open at night/not open at night so the customers don't come.  Hopefully when Bo Lings opens there this winter it will break the pattern and increase the life.


It's funny... I've been trying to encourage some of the bars to help break that cycle.  One night last week it was dead at one place and they were going to close at 9.  But then the bartender decided "screw it, let's stay open and see what happens".  After 11pm several people came in and they ended up staying open until 1:30 with a profitable night.
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Re: Status and future of the River Market area??

Postby kc-vino » Wed Nov 01, 2006 1:03 pm

In simply addressing the nightlife and hang out issues of the Rivermarket...I have always argued that the RM is really in need of a loungy bar for people to hang out.  For example, their are tons of very creative young and mentally young people in the RM that don't totally dig drinking beer at biker bars (winslows), country themed bars (harrys), sports bars (Skybox/minskys), or just restaurants that happen to have bars (brewery/Dos hombres).  The cup used to fill this void but now their is nothing in that category.  Where is the JP Wine bar of the rivermarket?  Something like ReVerse, The Hangout in midtown, Copa Room, the basement of 1924 main, jillies, bar Natasha, Buddha bar, lava lounge....are all perfect fits for the RM but currently don't exist. 

Diversity is good but not when it polarizes the neighborhood like the current mix in the area.  I live their and you very rarely get a feeling of neighborhood bars where you really see plenty of creative minded locals.  I had a friend once mention that the RM didn't have a bar where the tables were not made out of wood.  Read into it for whatever you want but it does show the lack of anything jetset or swanky in the RM.  Every bar and their respected models I mentioned in the above paragraph would do wonders for the RM.  Imagine anyone of those on Delaware
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