Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Discuss items in the urban core outside of Downtown as described above. Everything in the core including the east side (18th & Vine area), Northeast, Plaza, Westport, Brookside, Valentine, Waldo, 39th street, & the entire midtown area.
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chrizow
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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by chrizow »

the existence of HD/Costco isn't really the issue - it's the physical form they have taken. like voltopt says, they occupy basically a square mile! a square mile that formerly contained dozens of apartment buildings and homes. now most of it is a parking lot, which is rarely more than half full.

if HD/Costco refused to use a more "urban" form for its buildings, as voltopt said they should have been tucked away down off SW Blvd or somewhere like that. there is no excuse for razing entire neighborhoods for two retail tenants.

as stated above, the original plan was for a K-Mart! imagine! people are justifying this design aberration b/c Costco and HD are useful retailers. and i dont dispute that, but imagine if it was K-Mart - we'd have an EMPTY big box store right now, with parking. as it is now, we have that same level of destruction to the urban environment, only thankfully not the complete black hole that a vacant k-mart would bring.

even if the area was a "slum" in 1989, i doubt it would be so today. the area just north of linwood, between linwood and 31st, used to be pretty rough but for a long time it has been attracting urban renovators just like nearby north hyde park, longfellow, old hyde park, etc. there is no reason to believe the neighborhood that was erased for midtown marketplace could not have similarly seen re-investment. it doesn't matter that HD/Costco is at that intersection - down 31st on SW Blvd would be close enough to make midtown "safe" for investment by midtown homesteaders, i'd think.

i shop at both stores, but there is no denying that the design of this center is a ridiculous waste of space.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by heatherkay »

I think the argument is that if the neighborhood had continued on the trajectory it was headed in the mid-80s, the redevelopment in the surrounding neighborhoods would not have happened. A lot of this discussion seems to be looking at the neighborhood as it is now, with the Costco and the Home Depot in the middle of it, rather than Warner, and projecting back. As I've already said, I don't like the design. But to say that something drastic didn't need to be done is to ignore history.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by chrizow »

i dont really buy the argument, because there are neighborhoods pretty far from midtown marketplace that have improved since the 1980s. like, where we live in extreme south hyde park - our neighbors who have lived in their house since 1981, report that the neighborhood is a complete 180-degree shift from how it was back in the days where there were dead bodies and homeless camps in gillham park. i dont think the revitalization of our area has anything to do with home depot/costco.

similarly - look at pendleton heights and other areas of old northeast, or parts of KCK that are seeing reinvestment.

like some people have said in this thread, maybe seeing costco made people feel "comfortable" with urban living - but again, the costo and HD did not have to take the form of a square mile of olathe-style suburban development to do this. and, if they did take that form, they did not have to be located smack dab in the middle of midtown to have this effect. i'm sure would-be urban pioneers would be just as cool going down to SW Blvd.

i think the area between Costco and Union Hill has seen investment in spite of, not because of, midtown marketplace. i think it's more spillover from union hill than caused by costco. i know people who live in there, and while they (like us all) enjoy shopping at costco, they decry the suburban energy-suck that is the big box development form.

i have zero first-hand knowledge of the neighborhood pre-HD/costco, but i find it hard to believe it was so far gone that it could not have seen reinvestment like other "seedy" parts of town. look at Armour Blvd. maybe MAC was emboldened by costco/HD, but again this doesn't excuse the suburban big box form.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by heatherkay »

I'm not saying it happened because of the Costco or the big boxes. I'm saying it wouldn't have happened if they hadn't taken some drastic measures to try to do something to fix the neighborhood. The big boxes were just the best idea they could come up with at the time that could also get the funding to be implemented.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by chaglang »

The original development was lacking vision but it's still redeemable. It would be great to use this area as a prototype for repairing suburban developments. Leave the Costco/HD and infill the crap out of it. Maybe the KCDC would be interested.

As far as I can tell, the regeneration of Midtown is shaped like a hockey stick, with the handle being the end of WW2 and the blade starting around the year 2000 or so. North Hyde Park was crazytown in the mid-90's.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by flyingember »

a big box does have one value for the future. no one will cry over tearing it out

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by Demosthenes »

Well I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks tearing down an entire neighborhood for a Home Depot and Costco was a bad idea.

Why did something drastic have to happen to this site? Why couldn't some small solutions have been chosen instead, ones that were creative yet sensible? Ones that would keep the neighborhood for the most part, but potentially clean it up and add beneficial retail? I'm not saying I would have been against all demolition, but a large-scale all buildings must go type of demolition is just stupid.

Once again, if something drastic needed to be done then why aren't you down with doing more drastic urban renewal. For real, were you not against tearing down all of Armour a few years ago? It was really shady. Definitely a slum. Outsiders were scared driving by. And you know that tearing them down would have helped with the crime.

I hope you were realistic about that though. Even when Armour was holding down Hyde Park from further investment, tearing down those beautiful apartment buildings should never have been an option. After all, buildings do not do criminal activities. Therefore a drastic measure like tearing down these buildings is unneccessary. There are ways to get better tenants into the buildings. Thankfully MAC stepped up and singlehandedly did this. If only Warner Plaza had better ideas presented about how to solve its problems.

I'm really just baffled that so many of you "urbanists" are totally cool with old school, Robert Moses influenced urban renewal. A bit shocked. I mean I like Home Depot too. I go there frequently as well. I'm glad midtown has these tenants. That does NOT mean that I like the fact that we tore out an entire neighborhood for it. If it was built in an urban manner on a much smaller bit of land, like the one on North Halsted in Chicago, then it would have been totally cool. Or like Voltopt and Chrizow mentioned, these boxes could have been built in a total dead zone. Not just in a district that was struggling. And what's wrong with going to Ace for hardware needs? What about Harry J. Epstein? That place is so cool! What about other hardware stores? Not all hardware stores have to be the hardware equivalent of a Walmart. That being said, no doubt Home Depot offers convenience.

Regardless, the tenants aren't the issue. No doubt the Home Depot and Costco are beloved stores in this city. It is the design and complete indifference about the destruction of a neighborhood that was home to many law abiding citizens that was the problem.


And man, Chaglang... you seem to be taking this a little personally. I am not trying to put your efforts in the core down. Not at all. I've seen your posts on the forum in regards to Troost and your neighborhood. I know you do good work. This is just a thread on a message board, and I find it to be an interesting topic. Yes I agree that more focus should be on our current endangered buildings. There is a lot of work that can be done in midtown today, and this topic is no doubt a past discussion. But what is so wrong with that? Are we not allowed to talk about this? Come on man, we're all just discussing this important development in KC's history in our off time because we are all residents and fans of Kansas City. We're all off the clock here. It's a message board. So I don't know why you assume I don't do any work to help better the city. A little insulting dude.

I know we're never getting Warner Plaza back. You can view this discussion as pointless, but I still think it's interesting to think of what could have happened. And as someone mentioned earlier, the one true benefit of this happening is that we now have a clear example of what not to do in the future.

And Chagland, you would take a giant big box Ikea at 33rd and Troost?? Really? I would only if it's urban. Troost has so much potential in that stretch to be a truly great urban corridor again. No matter the economic impact of an Ikea locating there, it would be a corridor destroyer. No one would walk from one side of the Ikea to the other, just as no one walks from one side of Midtown Marketplace to the other anymore (unless they have absolutely no choice whatsoever :D ). I would probably walk a few blocks out of the way just to avoid walking through that sea of parking.

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chaglang
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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by chaglang »

Seriously, if someone can point me toward a large scale urban retail development, prior to 1989, that would have been a model for sufficiently preserving Warner Plaza, then I'll believe that the city blew an opportunity. As it is, I feel like they're being criticized for not inventing New Urbanism.
Demosthenes wrote: And Chagland, you would take a giant big box Ikea at 33rd and Troost?? Really? I would only if it's urban.
Like I said, in a heartbeat. They could take the entire block between 33rd and Linwood, Troost to Forest. It would cost us a total of 5 buildings, one of which is collapsing in the back. Or they could take the block between 28th and 29th. That would cost 4 buildings. I don't know how to make a 200,000sf yellow and blue spaceship look urban, so I'm not going to bother worrying about form on this one. :D

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by mykn »

Demosthenes wrote:What about Harry J. Epstein?
I need to check this place out. I live about a block away and always look into the windows when I go to the Phoenix, but from the look of it, didn't look like the kind of hardware store I needed to go to (more tools, less material, although I could be wrong.).

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by aknowledgeableperson »

"Why did something drastic have to happen to this site? Why couldn't some small solutions have been chosen instead, ones that were creative yet sensible? Ones that would keep the neighborhood for the most part, but potentially clean it up and add beneficial retail? I'm not saying I would have been against all demolition, but a large-scale all buildings must go type of demolition is just stupid."

Again, you are applying what is known now and going backward and judging decisions made in the past. And back then there were not the options that one has now. No one willing to step up and invest. In fact this area was seen as an impediment to investment in the rest of the surrounding area. There were businesses located there that were not desirable, not all but some. Armour was a nice park compared to the area.

Go over a few blocks to the SW and you will see another example of suburban style development in an urban area. And that was how retailers did it at the time, that is what they wanted. Now, there are people and companies willing to step up and invest somewhat more freely in the city's urban area and adhere to some urban principles. Back then was a completely different time.

Also consider the area that was cleared for the KCMOSD to the south. It is about a third of the area of HD/Costco. And throw in the areas cleared for other schools and HD/Costco becomes quite small.

You ask for small solutions. Well there weren't any. The area was considered a cancer. I am not sure about what is online but maybe you should go back and look at various KC Star and Times articles about the area at the time. And not just of Warner Plaza but all along Main Street from 31st through Westport. You will become enlightened about how and why things happened they way they did.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by flyingember »

there was a similar project in St. Louis in terms of history and scale and someone trying. Pruitt-Igoe was the result.

This was another case with actual slum lords. What they did was based on the best information they had at the time. Oh, the city of st louis made many wrong decisions but doing nothing wasn't an option. North StL being full of empty lots is the result we have today, at least they built something back then.

It's a good example for someone to get a feel for just how hard urban redevelopment is. There's a documentary on Netflix that does a decent job at explaining it's history.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by warwickland »

one could make the argument that there were/are power processes acting on the city (st. louis/kc) that were beyond the control of any one developer or city government, so that a sort of urban disaster was enevitable no matter what. i would make the argument that it was heavy handed to tear down buildings just because the businesses were morally objectionable to the great white fathers of kcmo of the time.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by Demosthenes »

mykn wrote:
Demosthenes wrote:What about Harry J. Epstein?
I need to check this place out. I live about a block away and always look into the windows when I go to the Phoenix, but from the look of it, didn't look like the kind of hardware store I needed to go to (more tools, less material, although I could be wrong.).
Yea I think you are right, there isn't much material from what I recall. But the place is really, really cool! You have to check it out. They have any tool you could ever want, even enormous wrenches so big you can barely pick them up. And Epstein himself is a real cool cat. Check it out.
aknowledgeableperson wrote:"Why did something drastic have to happen to this site? Why couldn't some small solutions have been chosen instead, ones that were creative yet sensible? Ones that would keep the neighborhood for the most part, but potentially clean it up and add beneficial retail? I'm not saying I would have been against all demolition, but a large-scale all buildings must go type of demolition is just stupid."

Again, you are applying what is known now and going backward and judging decisions made in the past. And back then there were not the options that one has now. No one willing to step up and invest. In fact this area was seen as an impediment to investment in the rest of the surrounding area. There were businesses located there that were not desirable, not all but some. Armour was a nice park compared to the area.
I don't think you are giving people from that time much credit. How did we not know THIS in the 80s? There have always been small scale improvements done. Not really a new concept.

And I admit, it may not have worked. Lets say we fixed up the sidewalks and streets, kept the overgrowth and grass cut neat and trim, made sure vacant buildings were boarded up tightly so that squatters couldn't get in, had a few police officers on horse or something (maybe even walking) patrolling the neighborhood. Small things like these could have made a big difference I think. Just one or two ballsy people investing in the neighborhood could have changed the entire outlook on the site. I do not consider the investment that took place to be ballsy however. When you erase everything and start with a blank slate, it takes away all challenge.

I realize that times were much different in the world of redevelopment. In today's world we would do things much differently, and that is in part to these past mistakes. We are now able to see why this was not done properly. Still though, in those days there were still other redevelopment options. People then were not completely stupid, or even ignorant. Unfortunately the final plans were put forth with little creativity.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by missingkc »

People then were not completely stupid, or even ignorant.
I'm not at all sure you're right about that second part. I've never been impressed with the willingness of KC politicians to inform themselves. I'd like to think it's better now than it's been for a long, long time in that regard.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by Demosthenes »

missingkc wrote:
People then were not completely stupid, or even ignorant.
I'm not at all sure you're right about that second part. I've never been impressed with the willingness of KC politicians to inform themselves. I'd like to think it's better now than it's been for a long, long time in that regard.
Yes I agree that it seems a lot better now than I can ever remember, though a lot of politicians still like to keep themselves uninformed on many issues.

So yea, I felt a little weird including the ignorant part too, because obviously there was a lot of ignorance. There had to be some people with good ideas that had a deeper understanding of urban renewal. But yea this was mostly a time of great ignorance.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by aknowledgeableperson »

"Just one or two ballsy people investing in the neighborhood could have changed the entire outlook on the site."

You still don't get it. People were not willing to invest in the core city, for the most part, at the time. Maybe individual houses in select neighborhoods but retail or commercially there was almost no desire at all. In other words there were no one or two ballsy people willing to take the chance. Especially with a sex shop and a porn palace/strip joint nearby, they were not attractive neighbors.

From the Pitch, 9/28/2006
"The Ray's saga started when crusading city leaders had the grand idea to clean up a neighborhood that had grown as seamy and sordid as New York City's Times Square. The first dirty-book store had opened there in 1971. The next year, the old Kimo Theater at 3319 Main — which had been Kansas City's "art" movie house for many years — celebrated a new grand opening as the Dove Theatre. Its debut flick? Deep Throat. The new owners were even so brazen as to throw a party for the press. "And the press came!" confesses one photographer, who speaks with great authority on the subject but discreetly asks that the Strip not reveal his name.

Whatever, dude. A lot more people came in, we mean to, the theater, which was soon joined on that stretch of Main by several other sex-oriented businesses. In addition to Ray's Playpen, there was the first Bazooka's Showgirls and, just down the street, a cowboy-themed gay bathhouse called The Bunkhouse.
...
One of the Strip's acquaintances, we'll call him Harry Reems (after the male lead in Deep Throat), remembers his first foray into one of the closet-like peep shows at the rear of the original Ray's. "I put my token in the slot to watch a movie, and suddenly someone stuck his pee-pee into a hole in the wall. I ran out screaming." "

Yeah, Times Square wasn't torn down but that is New York not Kansas City.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

Post by aknowledgeableperson »

If you want to discuss the similarities vs the differences then go ahead start the discussion.

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

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Re: Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunde

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No akp, I DO get it. Do you get it? Because correct me if I'm wrong, but Midtown Marketplace was investment. Was it not? So how was no one ballsy enough to invest in the area when the whole entire god damn thing we are talking about was investment?!?

I just disagree with how they went about investing in the area. Okay? I think it was a blunder. One of the city's greatest blunders.

And actually, they did kind of tear down Times Square. I mean it still exists, but much of it is gone and has been replaced by new buildings, and the scene itself has changed drastically. Lets say that it was the same though. What the hell does that pathetic statement mean? That is New York but this is Kansas City. As if Kansas City isn't important and nothing is worth saving here. This is where NYC and KC are way different. When things go bad in NYC, they do things to help make the neighborhood better. When things go bad in KC, they bulldoze the area and pretend it never happened.

Pash is 100% correct. When it comes down to it the difference is attitude.

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