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Downtown Kansas City, Missouri

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Title: Downtown Kansas City, Missouri  
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Subject: Johnson County, Kansas, Viaduct, 1920 in architecture, Crown Center, Quality Hill, Kansas City, Interstate 670 (Kansas–Missouri), Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, East Village, Kansas City
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Downtown Kansas City, Missouri

Downtown Kansas City

A portion of the downtown Kansas City skyline
Country United States
State Missouri
Counties Jackson County
City Kansas City
 • Total
 • Land 6.23 sq mi (16.14 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)  0%
Elevation 800 ft (200 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 22,576
 • Density 3,624/sq mi (1,400/km2)
ZIP code 64101, 64102, 64105, 64106, 64108, and 64109
Area code(s) 816

Downtown Kansas City is the central business district (CBD) of Kansas City, Missouri and the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. It is located between the Missouri River in the north, to 31st Street in the south; and from the KansasMissouri state line east to Bruce R. Watkins as defined by the Downtown Council of Kansas City.[1] The 2010 Greater Downtown Area Plan formulated by the City of Kansas City defines the Greater Downtown Area to be the city limits of North Kansas City and Missouri to the north, state line to the west, 31st street to the south and Woodland Avenue to the east.[2] Though the definition used by the Downtown Council is the most commonly accepted. In March 2012, Downtown Kansas City was selected as one of America's Best downtowns by Forbes magazine for its rich culture in arts, numerous fountains, upscale shopping and various local cuisine - most notably barbecue.[3][4]


According to the Downtown Council of Kansas City, as of 2013, Downtown has 19,899 total residents with 11,790 housing units and a median household income of $61,491. Also as of 2013, Downtown has 137 units under construction and 1,326 in the planning stages.[5]

The United States Census in 2010 suggests Downtown has a population of 22,576. Though this may include land outside the boundaries as defined by the Downtown Council of Kansas City.

In the year 2000, the population may have been as low as 10,000 people with 7,330 units. In 2005, Downtown Kansas City had a density of approximately 5,617 inhabitants per square mile (2,169 /km2) in its 3.0-square-mile (7.8 km2) area. According to Local Market reports, Downtown houses approximately 20,000,000 square feet (1,900,000 m2) of office space. However, the vacancy of this space is at about 15%. There are also about 12,800,000 square feet (1,190,000 m2) of Class A&B office space in Downtown, with a vacancy rate of 15.9%.[6] There are over 100,000 employees working in the Downtown area. Downtown has a total of 5,606 hotel rooms or 22.5% of the total amount of hotel rooms in the metropolitan area. The average occupancy of these rooms is about 56.5%. Currently about 2,800,000 square feet (260,000 m2) of office space are under construction in Downtown Kansas City.Current investments into downtown redevelopment have exceeded $6 billion.[7]

Architectural structures

Oppenstein Brothers Memorial Park

Redevelopment projects

In recent years, Downtown Kansas City has been undergoing a massive "boom" in renovations and new construction. Since 2000, the estimated cost of these projects has totaled over $5.5 billion.

Power & Light District

The Power & Light District, also known as the "Entertainment District", is a nine-block area immediately to the south of the Central Business District. Originally to be named "Kansas City Live", the developer - Cordish, Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland - decided to name the district after the historic art deco Power & Light Building. The present headquarters of the Kansas City Power & Light Company, a subsidiary of Great Plains Energy (NYSE: GXP), is also located on the northern side of the district. Instead, a one-block area near the new H&R Block headquarters tower—devoted to live music venues—will be named Kansas City Live!.

Since the summer of 2006, the H&R Block building has been open for business. Its prominent oval shape, mixed with blue-green reflective glass, makes for an architectural transition between the Central Business District's skyscrapers and the south loop's older buildings. This ties together a theme of new, glass-walled buildings in the area, also including the Sprint Center and the Kansas City Star printing press across I-670.

As well, Cordish plans to build four residential towers in the project. Among the plans are a 38-floor 350-unit residential tower which may include a boutique hotel. The site lays immediately north of the H&R Block headquarters on a lot once occupied by the flagship store of the Jones Store Company. In March 2006, the ground was leveled and dug out.

Construction is evident when driving across I-670, as the new Entertainment District practically shares a border with the Interstate. Soon the view will be blocked by the above mentioned residential towers. Enclosed between the residential towers and H&R Block's new Building will be many shops and restaurants, new to the Kansas City area. City leaders hope that the new District will be a major attraction for Kansas City-area residents and visitors to the area, and have a civic impact on Downtown similar to that experienced by other municipalities, such as Baltimore and San Antonio.

[8] -Official Website

[9] -Construction Webcam

Sprint Center

The Sprint Center, an 18,500-seat arena, is a project that was announced shortly after the Power & Light District. In 2004, the proposed arena was effectively passed by the voters of all the affected counties, who voted to fund the arena by means of a tax on car rentals and hotels.

This project raised some controversy. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a St. Louis company whose owner is known for supporting an NBA team for St. Louis, lobbied against the tax and tried to sway public opinion against the arena. Some city officials, as well as those who did not desire to pay the increased tax, also fought against the project. One of the most prominent of these individuals was Sandra McFadden-Weaver, a member of the City Council of Kansas City, Missouri. Despite the outcry from a few dissenters, the arena vote passed decidedly.

Construction began late in 2004. Before this, however, and even before the vote, the city sent out a request for local and national architectural firms to bid on the project. Some of these firms included HOK Sports, Ellerbe Beckett, 360 Architecture, Rafael Architects Inc. and the world-renowned Frank Gehry. The first four of those firms, however, collaborated to form the "Downtown Arena Design Team", and won the contract over Gehry's bid. As a reason for their choice, the city stated both that those companies had completed a variety of sports-related projects done many projects related to sports, and that all were local companies.

Since construction began, many local minority leaders have protested the construction company and contractors for not putting enough minorities in the construction and contracting teams. The contractors, however, assert that they have complied with state and federal requirements and continue to meet the requests of local citizens.

As of June 2011, the arena does not have an NBA or NHL tenant.

[10] -Construction Webcam

Convention Center Ballroom

Bartle Hall Convention Center, having notably expanded over the past decade, has decided to expand yet again. The current project entails a large ballroom facility, situated over I-670's passage through downtown Kansas City just east of the convention center. The project is estimated to cost about $100 million.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The newly completed Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is located on the northern edge of the Crossroads Arts District just south of the Bartle Hall ballroom. Construction was started on October 6, 2006 and opened to the public in September 2011. The 316,000-square-foot (29,400 m2) performing arts center now serves the Kansas City Metropolitan Area as host to three resident companies: the Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet, and Kansas City Lyric Opera.

[11] -Construction Webcam

Federal Reserve Bank of KC headquarters

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City decided to move from a 21-story tower in the Downtown Loop to a Penn Valley Park location on the southern edge of Downtown, immediately west of Crown Center on a site formerly occupied by Trinity Lutheran and St. Mary's hospitals. The new bank was dedicated in 2008 and has a 16-story office tower and 2-story operations center. It was designed by Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

IRS headquarters

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) built a building downtown, just west of Crown Center, to house 6,000 employees. Presumably because of the threat of terrorism, the IRS decided on this particular site because it is in a low-lying area and the development has low-rise buildings. The plan called for a $200 million facility with 5,500 parking spaces in its accompanying garage, and over a million square feet of space for the IRS. Construction began in 2004 and was scheduled for completion in the summer of 2006. The IRS was also to occupy the nearby Kansas City Main Post Office building, the Post Office having moved across the street to a building next to Union Station.

Freight House

The 120-year-old historic Freight House building in the Crossroads Arts District was renovated in the late 1990s, and it is now home to Grunauer, Lidia’s Kansas City, and Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue. The original plan for the redevelopment included a 21-story hotel and garage; however, the hotel portion of the plan did not materialize at the time, because of then uncertainty about the future redevelopment of downtown.

In August 2007, it was announced that developer Dan Clothier now wants to complete his original plan by adding an 18-story hotel tower atop a three-level garage. The $38 million project calls for the structure to house either 200 hotel rooms or a combination of 160 rooms along with some residential units.


Kansas City's second largest advertising & pr firm Barkley Inc., formerly Barkley Evergreen & Partners, moved its 350 plus employees to the former TWA world headquarters at the very southern edge of the district in November 2006. The building has been empty for two decades and cost over 30 million dollars to renovate. Barkley also reconstructed the famous Disney designed three-story rocket ship that had stood atop the building during TWA's tenure. The Moonliner signified one-time TWA majority shareholder Howard Hughes' desire to guide the airline into space travel. Other renovations to the building included a theater, grass-lined rooftop observation deck, open floor plan, and gallery space featuring art from local and national artists. Barkley adopted the rocket ship as its new logo shortly before moving into the renovated TWA space.

Residential construction

This is a list of all currently under construction, proposed, and envisioned developments for Downtown that include residential units, ranging from lofts, to condos, to studios.

Under construction

Name Units Location
Bridgeworks 224 River Market
Argyle Building 90 Downtown Loop
309, 509 & 510 Delaware 80 River Market
Windows Lofts 72 Crossroads
Graphic Arts Building 58 Downtown Loop
Midland Theater Apartments 40 Downtown Loop
Cherry Hill Row 15 Gillham Row
Abdiana Building 13 Downtown Loop
1728 Holmes 7 Crossroads
Total 1778 Greater Downtown
Beacon Hill 430 Beacon Hill
East Village 800 Downtown Loop
Old US Courthouse 136 Downtown Loop
Mark Twain Hotel 150 Downtown Loop
SoLo Lofts 12 Crossroads


Name Units Location
P&L District 850 Downtown Loop
Federal Reserve Tower 120 Downtown Loop
Wellington Place 110 Downtown Loop
JI Case Building 105 Crossroads
Clubhouse Lofts West 95 Downtown Loop
Firestone Building 90 Crossroads
Graphic Arts Building 58 Downtown Loop
PCB Project 50 Crossroads
The Star Lofts 46 Crossroads
Trinity Lutheran 29 Trinity Lutheran/Midtown
Republic Paper 25 River Market
Gate City National Bank 20 Downtown Loop
29 Gillham Row 19 Gillham Row
W Lofts 17 Crossroads
Midwest Hotel 13 Crossroads
2004 Grand 5 Crossroads
Total 3180 Greater Downtown


The Commerce Bank Tower at 9th and Main Streets houses Kansas City's largest bank.

H&R Block, Commerce Bancshares, UMB Bank, Kansas City Southern, BNIM, Great Plains Energy, Aquila, DST Systems, J.E. Dunn Construction Group and HNTB are among the companies also headquartered in Downtown Kansas City.

Entertainment venues


The Loop

The Loop is the north central section of Downtown Kansas City, is the most dense section of the city, and is surrounded on all four sides by the downtown freeway loop. Altogether the Loop has an area of nearly one square mile. In 2006, the Downtown Loop had nearly 8,000 residents. The Downtown Loop encompasses Quality Hill, the Central Business District, the Entertainment District, and the Government District.

  • The Library District is an officially designated area roughly bounded by 9th and 11th Streets on the north and south and Main Street and Broadway on the east and west in Downtown Kansas City, MO. The Library District took its new name in 2003 in connection with the move of the Kansas City Public Library's Central Branch to a building formerly the headquarters of the First National Bank of Kansas City. This area includes the Kansas City Club, the Community Bookshelf (which is the exterior of the library's parking garage), and the 10th and Main Transit Plaza, one of the regional bus terminals. Originally this area was developed as a commercial and entertainment area in the 1880s, but now contains a large number of loft buildings. Several surface parking lots remain in this area that may in the future be redeveloped into more intensive developments.
  • The Garment District is located to the east of Quality Hill, across Broadway Boulevard. In the 1930s several large clothing manufacturers clustered here, making Kansas City's garment district second only to New York City's in size. Today, this heritage is commemorated by an oversize needle and thread monument. Its old industrial buildings have since been redeveloped into loft apartments, office, and restaurants. Henry Perry, father of Kansas City-style barbecue got his start in 1908 from a stand in an alley in the neighborhood.
  • The Government District on the east side of the downtown loop consists of Kansas City's City Hall (the tallest city hall in the United States, at 30 stories), the Jackson County Courthouse, Police Headquarters, the Bolling Federal Building, the Charles Evans Whittaker U.S. Courthouse, which serves as the seat of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The government buildings are in walking distance of each other and are centered around Ilus Davis Park.
  • The Financial District, includes Kansas City's main skyscrapers, such as One Kansas City Place (the tallest habitable structure in Missouri), the Town Pavilion, and City Center Square. The district also includes the headquarters of the KCMO School District and, until the spring of 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The financial buildings are in walking distance of each other.
  • The Power & Light District is a nine-block entertainment district developed by the Cordish Company of Baltimore, Maryland, which has been under construction since 2004 and currently is nearing completion. It is situated along the southern edge of the downtown loop, bordered by Truman Road and Interstate 670 to the south and Bartle Hall Convention Center to the west. It includes Municipal Auditorium, H & R Block's new corporate headquarters and the new 18,000 seat Sprint Center, which opened on October 10, 2007.
  • The Convention District consists of Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium, Bartle Hall Convention Center, the Power & Light District, and the Sprint Center. The convention buildings are in walking distance of each other.



Main article: Metro Area Express

Launched by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) in July 2005, "MAX" (Metro Area Express) is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line extending from downtown through the Country Club Plaza to Waldo. These buses have GPS receivers so bus stops can give real time data about the next pickup time. All buses have dedicated lanes during rush hour and can hold traffic lights green, if needed, to get back on schedule.

The Downtown MAX stops include:

A second MAX BRT route opened on January 1, 2011 (Troost Avenue MAX, or "Green Line"), sharing some downtown stops with what is now called Main Street MAX (or "Orange Line"). Most other KCATA routes have stops throughout downtown, centered on the Transit Plaza at 10th & Main street and Grand Avenue between 11th and 12th.

Light rail

On November 7, 2006 Kansas City passed a light rail proposal. Only initial route information is available from the KCATA as the study will continue into 2009. The proposal was subsequently repealed by the Kansas City Council and no light rail projects are currently under construction. There has been recent studies for a downtown street car and a commuter rail along I-70.


Main article: Kansas City Downtown Streetcar

Kansas City is currently undergoing the planning and implementation phase on a 2.2 mile ling streetcar that travels from the River Market to Crown Center. It is set for construction in 2013 and to be completed by Spring 2015.


Bus lines



External links

  • Downtown Council
  • Downtown Neighorhood Association
  • Crossroads Community Association
  • River Market Business Association
  • The New Kansas City: $7 Billion Renaissance
  • KC-Lofts: Lofts for Sale and Rent in Kansas City

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