I don't think having high expectations is unrealistic. Even if it's a two-block stretch, this city has to start somewhere in creating a more remarkable downtown and city in general-and then begin expanding it outward.
Companies are leaving downtown, or looking to go elsewhere. The fact that AMC is considering leaving is a testatment to that. They have been downtown for years. Cerner is moving their staff over to Kansas. Stan Durwood came up with the original idea to create an entertainment district--which later became the Power & Light District. Now the very company that initiated that idea is thinking of leaving.
Kansas City, Missouri, is having a hard time competing with the State of Kansas poaching, and competition from generic suburban developments like Legends and Town Center. The only real weapon the City has is to begin creating special places around our cultural attractions (Sprint Center, Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium, PAC, Midland Theater, Copaken Stage, Folly Theater) that don't exist elsewhere.
This despite the fact that three major freeways converge on the downtown loop, and it's convenient to workers in all directions that live in all parts of the Metro. The infastructure is already there for a central business district. Mass transit converges there. The synergy of banking, government, and cultural amenities should exist there.
Kansas City, Missouri, cannot afford to make mistakes, and to produce generic manufactured environments that don't end up attracting enough business to not require millions in public subsidies.
We needed the Power & Light District to rebuild downtown. However, the existing environment could have been better. Not to acknowledge that is foolish. There is ample evidence that exists in creating better places. Instead, we got a two-block stretch of one- and two-story buildings with no residential component built. Just a hope for the future.
It is only my opinion, but I think the Power & Light District could have been better conceived. I posted all those photos to show how other cities have done it in the past. Downtown needs density and more residential to make Power & light ultimately successful without tourists and event-goers.
The restaurants and clubs along 14th Street should have been 4- to 6-story buildings with wider sidewalks for more plentiful outdoor street dining and uninhibited strolling. The blocks should have been better planned so as not to create hostile street walls.
The retail buildings west of Main and south of 13th Street should also have been more than one- or two-story buildings, and they should have had residential above the stores. Lost opportunity to build density and population.
Across the street to the south of Cosentinos, you have no storefronts or inviting entrances and windows. Just a wall. The Copaken Stage building has no formal entrance to the street. Just one off a courtyard, and it's not apparent how to enter the building.
The building housing the College Basketball Experience is just another example of a bland building with a hostile street interaction. The north side of the building on 13th Street creates another dead block.
The H&R Block building is pretty, but it should have had incorporated storefronts facing the street, and not create just another corporate lobby that doesn't add to the overall character and purpose of a downtown. Large corporate lobbies in newer buildings have crowded out all the old street spaces that used to house retail and restaurants. They interrupt continuous retail storefronts that draw people from block-to-block.
It was also a mistake not to have built the new apartment buildings that were planned south of 14th Street facing Truman, and behind the Mainstreet Theater when the entire project was being built. The City also should have built an undergound garage under the new buildings south of 14th Street between Main and Grand to serve those apartment buildings. I predict that someday we will regret that decision.
The Downtown Loop has one of the lowest residential vacancy rates in the City. When the P&L District was being conceived, residential buildings were at about 95 percent occupancy. The City needs a lot more downtown housing to build a stable worker population to retain and attract companies.
Not taking every opportunity to add apartments downtown was a mistake. Creating nine blocks of new structures without a residential component was a mistake.
Cosentinos should also have had an apartment building on top of it.
Newer housing would have attracted a different demographic that those who move into renovated older office buildings. You can plan layouts better, and create modern spaces that have room for closets, bigger kitchens, more light, attractive views, and no exposed ductwork. While older buildings converted for residential have their place, they often have limitations.
I lived in New York City for 10 years, and I will tell you that people will pay for good views. Apartments with views are the most sought-after. In a city like Kansas City, they are a rarity.
For a City like Kansas City to be successful--without a coastline or mountains, and warm weather, it has to create special places that attract people. It should look to Europe for examples of how to create a great city. They have been doing it for centuries.
Last edited by FangKC
on Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.