After a week in Kansas City of site tours, briefings and more than 100 stakeholder interviews, eight panelists presented their findings in the culmination of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Advisory Services Program study of our North Loop. The panel’s recommendation – decommissioning that section of highway and redeveloping the area could make economic sense, but only after the city attends to several other high priority projects.
An area generally involving about a mile section of I-70/I-35 that forms the north side of Kansas City’s downtown freeway, the North Loop was the subject of a 2016 10-member ULI Kansas City Technical Assistance Panel research initiative which concluded that the 32-acre area involved would make a prime location to attract a major, new corporate presence.
Chaired by Glenda Hood, now in private consulting but previously serving as Florida’s secretary of state and the mayor of Orlando, this year’s panel suggested near-term focus on a master plan for downtown that takes into consideration “people infrastructure” as we contemplate how major infrastructure can reconnect downtown, and all of Kansas City. The panel had a number of findings but the projects it prioritized:
- Develop a downtown master plan.
- Get creative with outreach strategies to bring in a wider, more diverse set of community partners.
- Leverage education program momentum.
- Work on improving regional cooperation.
- Expand KC Streetcar.
- Focus on downtown infill for immediate development.
- Bring Rt. 9 back to grade.
- Reconnect Independence Avenue to downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.
- Integrate the North Loop vision in a city strategic visioning exercise.
Glenda and other panelists emphasized the need for us to have inclusive conversations about what is next for the city, not just downtown, a theme Mayor James picked up on in his informal remarks at the conclusion of the presentation. She noted that a strategically focused vision that has earned the support of the community moves forward, something she believes people considering relocating to Kansas City look for – the level of inclusive civic engagement and decisive leadership.
What came out of this was a call for establishing broad-based priorities that resonate for the whole community in a master plan format that guides decision making and investment. The panel’s preliminary recommendations would find their place within that plan’s context.
Click here for the ULI North Loop Advisory Panel’s presentation. A more complete report will be delivered by this ULI panel before the end of the year.
Members of the 2017 ULI panel:
- Glenda Hood, tri-Sect, LLC, Orlando, Florida
- Dean D. Bellas, Urban Analytics, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia
- Bill Clarke, planning consultant, Ross, California
- David Greensfelder, Greensfelder Commercial Real Estate LLC, San Francisco, California
- April Anderson Lamoureux, Anderson Strategic Advisors, LLC, Boston, Massachusetts
- Todd Meyer, Forum Studio, Chicago, Illinois
- Adam Weers, Trammell Crow Company, Washington, D.C.
- John Paul Weesner, Kittleson & Associates, Orlando, Florida