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Downtown Kansas City

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Downtown Kansas City

Downtown Kansas City
A portion of the downtown Kansas City skyline
A portion of the downtown Kansas City skyline
Country United States
State Missouri
Counties Jackson County
City Kansas City
 • Total 6.23 sq mi (16.14 km2)
 • 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 Drive 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, the Kansas–Missouri state line to the west, 31st Street to the south and Woodland Avenue to the east.[2] However, 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, the Downtown area has a total population of 19,899 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 that Downtown has a population of 22,576, though this may include land outside the district boundaries defined by the Downtown Council of Kansas City.

In 2000, the population may have been as low as 10,000 people with 7,330 units. In 2005, Downtown Kansas City had a population 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, accounting for 22.5% of the total amount of hotel rooms in the metropolitan area. The average occupancy of these rooms is about 56.5%. As of 2007, 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 located to the immediate south of the Central Business District. Originally to be named "Kansas City Live", Cordish, Inc. of Baltimore, Maryland – which developed the area – 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, 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 – was named Kansas City Live!.

Looking West down the main Street of the new Power and Light District.
Looking East down the main Street of the same road.

The H&R Block building, which opened in the summer of 2006, has a prominent oval shape in its design, mixed with blue-green reflective glass, making 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.

AMC entered into an agreement with Cordish to redevelop the Mainstreet Theater.

Cordish also built four residential towers as part of the project, which include a 38-floor 350-unit residential tower (plans for this complex also included a boutique hotel), lying to the immediate north of the H&R Block headquarters on a lot once occupied by the flagship store of the Jones Store Company. Groundbreaking on the complex began in March 2006. The Entertainment District practically shares a border with I-670. 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 residents and visitors to the Kansas City area, and have a civic impact on Downtown similar to that experienced by other municipalities, such as Baltimore and San Antonio.

Sprint Center

The Sprint Center, an 18,500-seat arena, is a project that was announced shortly after the Power & Light District. In 2004, a ballot initiative to fund the proposed arena through a tax on car rentals and hotels was effectively passed by area voters. The project raised some controversy as Enterprise Rent-A-Car, whose owner is known for supporting a possible NBA franchise in the company's headquarters of 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 on the Sprint Center in late 2004. Before this, however, and even before the vote, the city sent out requests to local and national architectural firms – including HOK Sports, Ellerbe Beckett, 360 Architecture, Rafael Architects Inc. and the world-renowned Frank Gehry – to bid on the project. The first four of the aforementioned firms, however, collaborated to form the "Downtown Arena Design Team," and won the contract over Gehry's bid, with the city citing that the companies had completed a variety of sports-related projects and were based locally as the reason for their selection. 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.

The Sprint Center opened in 2007; as of June 2011, the arena does not have an NBA or NHL tenant. However, the arena has served as the venue for events such as concerts and since March 2008, the Big 12 Basketball Tournament.

Convention Center Ballroom

The Bartle Hall Convention Center has undergone expansions since the late 1990s. The most recent expansion 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 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 began on October 6, 2006, and the facility opened to the public in September 2011. The 316,000-square-foot (29,400 m2) performing arts center now plays host to three resident companies: the Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet and Kansas City Lyric Opera.

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is a 16-story office tower with a two-story operations center designed by Henry N. Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. It is located at Penn Valley Park on the southern edge of Downtown, to the immediate west of Crown Center on a site formerly occupied by Trinity Lutheran and St. Mary's Hospitals. The bank was formerly based out of a 21-story tower in the Downtown Loop until the Penn Valley Park facility was completed and opened in 2008.

IRS headquarters

IRS Headquarters under construction, October 2004

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has its Kansas City offices located just west of Crown Center, which houses up to 6,000 employees. Presumably because of the threat of terrorism, the IRS decided on that site as 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 1,000,000,000 sq ft (93 km2) of office space. Construction began in 2004 and the building was completed 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 historic Freight House building in the Crossroads Arts District was built in the 1880s; it 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 uncertainty at the time of the renovation about the future redevelopment of downtown.

In August 2007, developer Dan Clothier announced that he wanted 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.


The TWA Moonliner atop the Former TWA Building is a landmark in the Crossroads Art District.

Barkley Inc., an advertising and public relations firm formerly known as Barkley Evergreen & Partners, moved its 350+ employees to the former TWA world headquarters at the very southern edge of the district in November 2006. The building had been empty for two decades and cost over $30 million to renovate. Barkley also reconstructed the famous Walt 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. BNIM Architects moved to the third floor of the building in 2014.

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 condominiums, 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; it 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.

Districts located in The Loop are:

  • 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. The Library District name was adopted 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 oversized needle and thread monument. Its old industrial buildings have since been redeveloped into loft apartments, office space 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 – located 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 Kansas City, Missouri 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 the Municipal Auditorium, H&R Block's new corporate headquarters and the 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.


Metro Area Express (MAX)

Launched by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) in July 2005, "MAX" (Metro Area Express) is a bus rapid transit line extending from downtown through the Country Club Plaza to Waldo.[8] The MAX buses include GPS to transmit real-time data on the next pickup time to each station where the line stops; all buses have dedicated lanes during rush hour and stoplights can automatically change in their favor, if needed, if buses are behind schedule.[9]

The Downtown MAX stops include:

A second MAX route opened on January 1, 2011 (Troost Avenue MAX, or "Green Line"), which shares 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 Streets and Grand Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets.

Light rail

A proposal to build a light rail system in Downtown Kansas City was passed by voters on November 7, 2006. 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.


On December 12, 2012, a ballot initiative to construct a $102 million, two-mile streetcar, which will stretch from River Market to Crown Center, was approved by local voters.[10] Construction on the line began in 2013, with the line is expected to become operational by the spring of 2015. A new non-profit corporation made up of private sector stakeholders and city appointees – the Kansas City Streetcar Authority – will operate and maintain the system. Unlike many similar systems around the U.S., there will be no fare charged initially.[11] The city is planning to add multiple extensions to the starter line.


Bus lines



10th Street, looking West from Main Street, 1913
  1. ^ "General Information". Downtown Council of Kansas City. Downtown Council of Kansas City. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Greater Downtown Area Plan". City of Kansas City, Missouri. City of Kansas City, Missouri. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Giuffo, John. Forbes . 
  4. ^ Giuffo, John. Forbes . 
  5. ^ "2013 Downtown Kansas City Housing Report". Downtown Council of Kansas City. Downtown Council of Kansas City. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Kansas City Business Journal (January 16, 2008). "KC's Downtown Office Vacancies Decline". Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  7. ^ Kansas City Downtown Council. "Summary of Downtown Investment". Archived from the original on 2007-08-30. Retrieved 2007-10-05. 
  8. ^ "Maps and Schedules". KCATA. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Light Rail and MAX". KCATA. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Kansas City voters approve streetcar plan". Kansas City Business Journal. Retrieved January 26, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Kansas City streetcar rides will be free". Kansas City Business Journal. Retrieved January 26, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Central." Kansas City Public Library. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.

External links

  • Downtown Council
  • Downtown Neighorhood Association
  • Crossroads Community Association
  • River Market Business Association
  • Power & Light District
  • The New Kansas City: $7 Billion Renaissance
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