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Charlotte
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At least that’s what the media there says. Where’s that little boy from KC who was talking all that noise a few weeks ago?


Posted on Sun, May. 18, 2008

As much as downtown KC has down, similar cities have done more
By JEFFREY SPIVAK
The Kansas City Star

Yes, Kansas City deserves a pat on the back for everything that’s been accomplished downtown this decade, from thousands of new residents to a lively new entertainment district.

Now comes the sobering reality: Downtown is still falling behind its big-city peers in many respects.

That’s what The Kansas City Star found when it analyzed, as much as statistically possible, downtown changes in similar-sized cities. For all that has happened here, Kansas City’s downtown progress often hasn’t kept pace or produced results on par with downtowns such as Indianapolis and St. Louis, Charlotte and Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City and Denver.

Sure, our downtown stands out in a few big ways — we’ve added more lofts and condos per year than any of our peers, for example. Mostly, though, downtown Kansas City’s progress has trailed the pack. Many peer downtowns have built more office space, kept more jobs, added more restaurants and gained more tourist visits since the beginning of this decade.

Overall, The Star analyzed the downtown progress made in Kansas City and 13 peer cities. The downtowns were compared in 16 statistical measures, but these comparisons have limitations. Some national statistics only measure the first half of this decade. Plus, different downtowns are in different stages of rebirth, with some starting earlier than Kansas City did.

Given all that, The Star’s analysis represents more of a snapshot than a complete picture.

That snapshot, though, shows Kansas City’s downtown progress below average in more than half of the comparisons with its peers — measures such as new bars, new hotels and office vacancy.

Basically, even with $4 billion invested in downtown so far this decade, we still don’t measure up all that well with other downtowns.

“I think you’re right in the middle of the pack of your peers,” said Christopher Leinberger, who visited Kansas City this year and has written about downtown revitalizations for the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. “What you’ve done is good, but it’s been done better elsewhere.”

Local business executives who travel a lot see this, too.

Take Terry Dunn, president of the JE Dunn Construction Group. He goes to Charlotte, Nashville and Denver every few months.

“We have turned a corner, but we’re probably lagging. All three of those cities are ahead of us,” Dunn said.

“We’re only in the early stages of renaissance.”

KC’s launch

But what an early stage it has been.

Downtown Kansas City has evolved into a residential neighborhood more successfully than just about any of its peers. It has added an average of almost 500 new housing units a year this decade.

As a result, Kansas City’s downtown population has jumped by more than 4,000 people, ranking Kansas City No. 3 among peer downtowns in average annual population gain. Downtowns in Columbus, Ohio, Milwaukee and Nashville barely gained 1,000 residents.

“Four thousand people — that is a lot,” said Kathryn Madden, a planning consultant who was principal author of a downtown Kansas City master plan known as the Sasaki Plan, which recommended focusing on residential development. “It shows a lot of commitment toward investing in your city.”

Beyond housing, Kansas City’s list of downtown accomplishments this decade sounds impressive: a new arena and adjoining restaurant-bar district; a new central library; new office towers for companies such as Kansas City Southern and H&R Block; an expanded convention center; vacant buildings turned into art galleries; and on and on.

Yet our peer cities haven’t exactly been sitting still. Quite the contrary. Other downtowns have made some of the same strides as Kansas City — and sometimes significantly more. Consider:

•Charlotte: opened a new arena and entertainment district — and built light rail.

•Cincinnati: expanded its convention center — and constructed new football and baseball stadiums.

•Denver: added a slew of office towers — and lured a Hyatt convention hotel.

•St. Louis: converted historic buildings into lofts — and added a casino to its riverfront.

Some of these downtown transformations, such as in Denver, actually began more than a decade ago and continued into this decade. Because of the differing timetables, Kay Barnes, Kansas City’s mayor for most of this decade, said it was unfair to compare our downtown progress to what had happened elsewhere since 2000.

“In a way it negates the positive nature of the change in Kansas City,” said Barnes, who received a national planning award for spearheading several big projects, such as the Sprint Center. “Each city did not start at the same time, so comparisons are premature.”

Other local leaders, though, think it’s important to know what other cities are doing and how Kansas City stacks up. After all, Kansas City must compete for companies, workers and tourists with Denver, which doubled its convention center, or Indianapolis, where $1 billion has been invested in life science research downtown, or Oklahoma City, which is getting a pro basketball team.

“That’s the competition,” said Bill Lucas, president of Crown Center and this year’s chairman of the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association.

“What we’ve done, it’s a job well done. But we have not surged ahead. We are still playing catch-up.”

Taking count

The Star’s analysis certainly bears that out:

•Restaurants and bars. Downtown Kansas City is dotted with new places to go, from restaurants like Succotash to nightclubs like Bar Natasha. But plenty of other establishments haven’t survived. So from 2000 to 2005, downtown added a net total of four bars and restaurants, according to U.S. Census estimates. Meanwhile, Denver’s downtown added 79, Milwaukee’s 34 and St. Louis’ 28.

Of course, Kansas City is now adding the Power & Light District, but as momentous as that is here, it wouldn’t necessarily propel Kansas City above many of its peers.

•Tourists. Since 2000, most peer downtowns saw double-digit percentage gains in total hotel-room stays. They jumped 28 percent in Memphis, 30 percent in Nashville and 42 percent in Oklahoma City, based on data from Smith Travel Research. Meanwhile, downtown Kansas City had a 3 percent decline, reflecting a huge drop-off in convention business.

Local officials are counting on the combination of the Sprint Center, Power & Light and Bartle Hall’s latest expansion to reverse downtown’s tourism trend. But first-quarter 2008 data show hotel-room stays and hotel occupancy rates are down from the same period last year.

•Office market. Private-sector activity is considered a good gauge of market demand for a location. In terms of office space, peer downtowns added 1 million square feet on average this decade, while Kansas City added just one-quarter of that, according to Integra Realty Resources.

It terms of private-sector jobs, Kansas City’s performance was worse. During the first half of this decade, downtown lost more than 9,400 such jobs, census figures showed. That was the fifth-worst job loss among the peer downtowns.

Mayor Mark Funkhouser realizes what Kansas City is up against. He doesn’t travel a lot, but he has visited Pittsburgh because his daughter attended college there downtown. So he has walked its streets, eaten in new restaurants and seen construction cranes erecting office towers.

“Pittsburgh’s a winner,” Funkhouser said. “We’re not close to Pittsburgh. It’s got a vibrant street life.

“It’s what I hope we’ll be like.”

Story Link: http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/625615.html
 

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Interesting. Says the cities that KC is not not on par with are Indy, OKC, Denver, Charlotte, St Louis, and Pittsburgh. I don't know if that means KC is on par with Salt Lake, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Milwaukee.. which is funny, because I wouldn't consider OKC to be on par with Nashville and Cincinnati, but what the heck..

It seems like this isn't a very Southern discussion though, unless you are from Nashville, Memphis, OKC, Louisville, or Charlotte.
 

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Charlotte
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We opened a new entertainment district?
I had to think about that one myself, LOL. I believe they’re referring to the North Tryon St./College St. area. You often hear it referred to as the entertainment district among the Chamber of Commerce and Center City Partners folks in town. And I would say most of the businesses there haven’t been around too much longer than say, 10 years or so. So theoretically, I suppose it could be construed as a “new entertainment district”. And honestly, from what I’ve read, there’s not much more in the KC “entertainment district” than what’s in Uptown Charlotte. So given the writer’s perspective, that’s probably what they’re talking about.
 

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Actually the Crossroads is pretty ahead of a lot of "entertainment districts" in some if not most of those cities mentioned. That's why I wonder if they included the Crossroads or not.
 

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Charlotte
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Actually the Crossroads is pretty ahead of a lot of "entertainment districts" in some if not most of those cities mentioned. That's why I wonder if they included the Crossroads or not.
What is the crossroads and where is it?
 

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Fly Nashville!
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I don't think KC is on par with Nashville and we can break that down just about any way you want. After all the construction is wrapped up in downtown Nashville, we'll be walking KC's dog with central city population.
 

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I had to think about that one myself, LOL. I believe they’re referring to the North Tryon St./College St. area. You often hear it referred to as the entertainment district among the Chamber of Commerce and Center City Partners folks in town. And I would say most of the businesses there haven’t been around too much longer than say, 10 years or so. So theoretically, I suppose it could be construed as a “new entertainment district”. And honestly, from what I’ve read, there’s not much more in the KC “entertainment district” than what’s in Uptown Charlotte. So given the writer’s perspective, that’s probably what they’re talking about.
I think it's a stretch, but hey....rock on, LOL
 

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Charlotte
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

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Crossroads is hardly part of Downtown KC, but it should be included if they're going to compare it to entire other cities..

Almost ALL of Downtown KC's vibrancy is in the Crossroads. It's a really cool part of town.
 

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I had to look twice at that picture of KC because it looks so much like the Old Market district in downtown Omaha.
 
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