In The Loop: May 15, 2022
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Now, on to this week’s Loop!
A few Downtown stats
[Excerpts from the Downtown Council of Kansas City’s “Morning Scoop” email]:
The Downtown Council dedicated its latest board of directors meeting to the business (and celebration) of welcoming employees back to the office.
A “Return to the Office” panel discussed how businesses and developers are approaching the post-COVID environment and evaluating the impacts on both employees and future tenants. The panelists provided insights into how they are returning to the office, as well as how future space could be designed to include health and wellness amenities. For a recording of the board meeting, including the panel discussion (beginning at 27:00), click here.
During the meeting, Gib Kerr, managing principal at Cushman Wakefield and vice chair of the Downtown Council board of directors, shared that 55% of all employees in Kansas City have returned to the office, ranking KC fifth among the largest cities in the United States (data collected by key card swipes at office buildings and workplaces).
Tommy Wilson, who oversees business recruitment for the Downtown Council, reported that more than 70 businesses have either relocated or renewed their leases Downtown since March 2020. In addition, more than 50 new retailers have opened throughout Downtown neighborhoods and districts.
For a full list of businesses that opened during the pandemic, visit the DTC’s new webpage, downtownkc.org/welcome-back/.
It was a sad day in Kansas City on May 19, 1899, when 44-year-old Robert Gillham passed away from pneumonia. Gillham was born in New York City, trained as an engineer in New Jersey, and likely found a streetcar-engineering challenge in the steep hills of Kansas City that would make him a Kansas City resident for the rest of his tragically short life.
Arriving in our town around the age 19, he soon designed the Ninth Street Incline and the Eight Street Tunnel to get streetcars from Downtown to the West Bottoms. With a hand in designing nearly every part of the city’s cable car grid in the late 19th century, “the father of Kansas City’s cable railway system” helped make KC’s system the third largest in the United States, behind San Francisco and Chicago. He also built the Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Gulf Railroad, a predecessor of Kansas City Southern Railroad, and served as the railroad’s general manager.
A former Kansas City Parks board commissioner, Gillham Road was named in his honor. And, while the name is not actually official, Gillham Park is a well-known and beloved green space and play area in the Central Hyde Park neighborhood of Midtown Kansas City.
This Thursday also marks the date in 1824 when Robert Thompson Van Horn was born in East Mahoning, Pa. Trained as a lawyer, he moved to Kansas City in 1855 and served as an alderman and postmaster before buying and editing a newspaper in 1861 that he would rename the Kansas City Journal. Van Horn would also be elected mayor in 1861, the first of his three terms. During the Civil War, he joined the Union Army as lieutenant colonel of the 25th Regiment, Missouri Volunteer Infantry, and served in the United States House of Representatives from 1865 to 1871.
The colonel’s country home with wife Adela was called “Honeywood,” and was located northeast of Kansas City, near today’s Van Horn High School—in fact, I haven’t been able to confirm it, but several sources claim the high school is located on the site of the former Van Horn home.
Earlier this week, KCUR 89.3 FM provided an update on the threatened historic buildings at 31st and Main. “If you look at the intersection of 31st and Main, that specific corner is the last remaining corner of any architectural interest,” Stacy Garrett, president of the Union Hill Neighborhood Association, said. “We view 31st and Main as one of our main entry points into the neighborhood.”
Developer Exact Partners and the Kansas City Artists Coalition have partnered to open ten artist studios in the Wonder Shops and Flats, site of the former Wonder bakery on Troost. Not only does the venture offer affordable creative space for artists, but it is expected to help add to the community-building momentum already in motion along the Troost corridor. Flatland tells more:
Union Station is following its record-breaking Auschwitz exhibition with “Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises,” which opened Friday at the station. “This major exhibition spotlights the mystery, legacy and resilience of one of the world’s great civilizations—the Maya of Central America—a powerful culture that rose in the tropical rainforests of Guatemala thousands of years ago,” George Guastello, Union Station president and CEO, said. Learn more at this link:
My former Northtown classmate and professional colleague, Mike Zeller, is gaining momentum with his vision for converting a West Bottoms railroad bridge into an entertainment and leisure facility. Cityscene KC has more:
Artful City: One weekly selection with a Downtown connection
Quick Clip: The city in motion—just a few seconds at a time
Downtown Lens: A single image depicting the urban aesthetic
Answering the question “Who are all these people and where are they going?”, The Loop brings you a list of some of the biggest events happening Downtown each week. Please give a friendly Downtown-Kansas City welcome to audiences and attendees of….
Graduation ceremonies—lots of commencement activities for area high schools and colleges Downtown this week. Also…
Kansas City Civic Orchestra season finale at Kauffman Center (3 p.m. show)
Pianist Dr. Samantha Ege at the Folly (5 p.m. show)
Kansas City Ballet presents The Wizard of Oz, today and May 19-22 at Kauffman Center
New Kids on the Block with Salt-N-Pepa, Rick Astley, and En Vogue at T-Mobile Center
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Song & Dance”, now through May 29 at Music Theater Heritage
MONDAY the 16th
Railway Systems Suppliers Inc. 62nd Annual Communication & Signal Exhibition, today through Wednesday at Bartle Hall
WEDNESDAY the 18th
Poet and spoken-word artist Rupi Kaur at the Midland
THURSDAY the 19th
CrankGameplays presents “I Have To Do This Show” at the Folly
FRIDAY the 20th
Candlelight: A Tribute to Queen & More at the Gem Theater
Kansas City Symphony presents Windborne's “The Music of Queen,” today through Sunday at Kauffman Center
Bluegrass in the Bottoms, today and tomorrow at GrindersKC
Platinum Rock Legends at KC Live! in the Power & Light District
SATURDAY the 21st
Destination Imagination Global Finals, today through the 24th at Bartle Hall
Spanish singer-songwriter Marca MP at the Midland
Silver Bullet at KC Live! in the Power & Light District
For a more exhaustive list of everything happening Downtown, go to the VisitKC events page and use the “regions” function to search for Downtown, Westside/Southwest Blvd, West Bottoms, River Market, Power & Light, Crown Center, Crossroads, 18th & Vine—or anywhere you want to go in the KC Metro
Got a tip about Downtown KC?
Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via social media
Until next week—enjoy the city!
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