What is Made in KC’s Vision for the Plaza?
Imagine the city’s best local brands all in one place: restaurants, cocktail bars, breweries, entertainment, live music, places to bring kids, places to go out. The Plaza should be a place where families and friends can gather and spend time together. We want the Plaza to be walkable and enjoyable even if you aren’t spending money.
How do we get there?
The Plaza is likely “over-retailed” in terms of the physical store footprints that exist today. Currently the district is littered with dozens of vacant storefronts. We likely need to redevelop some of these spaces for new uses. We believe a vibrant community and a vibrant economy go hand-in-hand. That means change is necessary. While much of the district is owned by multinational companies Macerich, Taubman, and Simon, there are dozens of buildings owned by local Kansas Citians who could redevelop their properties to allow for a variety of new uses.
Ever think it was strange there’s only one BBQ spot on the Plaza? Well that’s because Macerich, Taubman, and Simon create exclusive deals with tenants. But local building owners could add more modern restaurant space that would allow for another BBQ joint or another Italian restaurant. They could add residences, office space, and retail space.
Ever think it was strange we didn’t have cozy cocktail bars or breweries on the Plaza? Well that’s because rents are too high. One of the most practical ways of reducing rents is by increasing income through other means, like additional office space or residences. We can achieve that through sensible development that brings more people to the area.
Why isn’t it happening now?
There are a few people responsible for stifling development on the Plaza. They’re prohibiting anyone from building unless you’re connected with them. They do this through onerous ordinances that restrict growth so much as to stamp out competition.
Name the names!
We won’t do that here because we’re hopeful that we can find common ground and we’re not interested in escalating the situation through vilifying them. We will tell you that the lobbying group Historic Kansas City is very much responsible however for enabling these few individuals.
How do they do that?
Historic KC’s full time lobbying staff convince volunteer neighborhood leaders that their concerns about crime or crumbling infrastructure or parking in their neighborhoods is due to development on the Country Club Plaza. They rely on manipulative logical fallacies to say that street parking in a residential neighborhood is strained due to Plaza retail tenants, yet Plaza Parking garages remain underutilized (we even have parking studies to prove it!). But they don’t stop all retail development - they’ll advocate for the interests of their clients for restaurants on the same block despite the exact same circumstances.
Do we know what most people want for the Plaza?
Mayor Q posed that question to Kansas Citians on Facebook over the summer. The overwhelming response was that people wanted more things to do on the Plaza. They wanted more reasons to go. More places to bring friends and family. People didn’t say they have a hard time parking or that they don’t want to see changes on the Plaza - quite the contrary - people want to see us continue to develop into the next evolution of the Plaza, while maintaining its historic character.
What’s the Ordinance in question?
This latest ordinance seeks to prohibit City Council from granting any building height deviations in the future. It pulls power away from elected officials, enshrining the special interests of a few individuals who already developed their (very) large buildings. In short - it is anticompetitive and unfair.
Do we like the Plaza Bowl Overlay in general?
We love the idea of the Plaza Bowl Overlay. We need to continue to protect the historic character of this great district. But we can’t do so without exception and we can’t do it in a way that allows exceptions only to the insiders who’ve written the rules to benefit themselves. We believe the Plaza Bowl Overlay needs to be completely overhauled in the coming years.
How can I help?
Sign this letter and write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know you’d like to stay involved.
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