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thewack

Impressions of Kansas City

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I posted this on another forum specific to Kansas City, but thought this might interest some of you, or possibly some of you may have comments.

As promised I am writing my inital thoughts of Kansas City.

I arrived on a Friday and zipped through downtown on I-70. KC has a wonderful skyline. After I unpacked in my KCK/Roeland Park apartment, I went exploring around the area. I went through Mission on Johnson Drive and then up onto Shawnee Mission Pkwy and ventured into Merriam. It was cool to see places that I had seen in the Mission thread earlier.

The area where I live is very nice and only a few miles from downtown KCMO.

On Saturday I decided to venture into downtown and see what everyone has been talking about on this site. I got off around The Paseo, and ventured West into downtown. I was very disappointed as I drove around the Holmes St and Charlotte St areas. So many surface lots, and the only activity I saw was trash blowing around and the occasional bum. I went along Main, and saw some nice buildings, but the area was absolutely devoid of street life. That was the most depressed I had been in awhile.

However, after thinking about it for awhile, I picked a bad time to venture into the city. Saturday afternoons in most American cities are quiet. Plus, I was just randomly driving around town and could have been going in circles in an area that did not adequately represent the city.

I work off of West Pennway in what I believe is still considered downtown (correct me if I'm wrong) as an intern for the company building the massive IRS project. I've been around downtown some more during other times, and I see a lot of potential. It appears that in a few years there should be some street life eve on weekends with the new developments in the works. With so many projects around the area, it is bound to create a center of vibrancy from which further development will spread.

Some buildings/areas I have been impressed with so far are The President, P & L, and the loft district around Southwest Blvd. and Union Station.

My impression of Westport is that it appears rather suburban, but has it's charm. The Plaza is nice, but it seems to contrast its surroundings. It almost looks like a few blocks of Europe landed in suburbia. Even so, I liked the area.

I ventured out to Lee's Summit last Friday to meet some people before visiting the Ozarks. The sprawl was incredible. I guess being from Portland, OR it still is a shock to see how many of our country's cities sprawl. I drove through Overland Park on Sunday, and I am just amazed at how many expressways there are in this Metro.

Depsite my personal aversion to sprawl and sadness about forlorn downtowns, I see great potential for this area and am really starting to like what I see coming up in the near future. I will probably do some more exploring of Overland Park on Friday.

I went to the Midtown area along State Line Rd near KU Med and went to a bar around there. That seemed like a nice urban neighborhood.

And now the slew of questions:

What is the Metro Population of KC?

What is the percentage of residents in KS vs. MO?

Are there particular areas I should take a look at again that perhaps I saw at a bad time on my first exploration of downtown?

Other recommendations?

I think I am really going to like KC as I adjust to the differences in development styles than perhaps is my ideal. Thanks to everyone who provided me with information on prior threads about areas to see. I have a list and am trying to work my way through it to get to know the area better.

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Kansas City metro is just under 2 million people...the population is pretty evenly divided between the 2 states, although the Kansas side (JOHNSON COUNTY SPECIFICALLY) is considered to be the wealthy area by those who live in the region. Yes, there are quite a few freeways in the area, KC is very suburban, and feels like a western city. Cars rule, public transportation does not. I agree with your statements, I feel like KC will be a better place in the years to come, I'm hoping the city continues the improvements they have promised. Downtown still needs work, but I think a bright future is possible. Downtown KC is where downtown St. Louis was 10-15 years ago and St. Louis is really turning things around. I hope KC will follow.

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You are correct... you work in what is now considered Downtown. A few decades ago, it was considered Midtown (although I've gotten varying responses on this from life-long locals; some suburbanites even consider the Plaza to be Downtown... a careless overstatement). I live in the area where you work and can attest that much has changed in the year I've been down here. I also lived in Roeland Park/Mission for the five years prior and found it to be cheap and boring, yet charming enough if you have to live on the Kansas side.

A *good* time to check out your new city is over your lunch break. Walking down Southwest Boulevard towards Main Street will show you that the neighborhood is bustling during the work day and there are great new restaurants popping up all the time (1924 Main, Bulldog, The Cashew). The *best* time to check out your new city is on First Friday (the next will be June 3rd, although I will issue a caution that there's also a gay pride street festival that night in the same neighborhood). Just go to 19th and Baltimore, park and enjoy.

The Central Business District (a/k/a The Loop, bound by interstates 35, 70, 670 and US-71) is lively during the business day, as well, but can also seem desolate on evenings and weekends. There are many fascinating architectural aspects in the The Loop, so walk slowly, keep looking upward, and don't walk east of Grand after 7 PM.

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Kansas City sprawls greatly, especially compared to a place like Portland. I live in Kansas City, Kansas about 5 miles from downtown KC. There is definately a distinct difference in the type of development in KC compared to eastern cities. Due to it's smaller size, a lot of the built environment never reached the density of larger cities, however unlike western cities, KC is very industrialized just like it's rust belt counterparts. KC's downtown is surrounded by industrial areas on all sides, and our riverfronts are almost completely boxed in with industry.

In this respect KC has a lot more in common with cities like Cleveland and Detroit than western cities like Phoenix.

Just out of curiosity do you live in Roeland Park, or KCK? I am assuming Roeland Park.

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I technically live in KCK. My apartment complex is just over the county line in Wyandotte County, but I can go a few hundred feet and be in Roeland Park. I live right by the Price Chopper. It is an ok area.

After a few months in KC, I think the city is on the right track with development going on in downtown. Suburbia reigns in this town much like most cities. I wish KC the best in revitalizing its downtown. I would hope that the density increases in the loop through The Plaza. The Plaza to me seems like a few blocks of urbanity air dropped into suburbia, so hopefully it will eventually be better connected to an urban fabric.

A better transit system would be a good start.

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Driving through KC from Hartford to Denver one time, I decided to pull off the highway and see what the city was like. I must say, I loved the look of your city. There were fountains everywhere (from what I remember), which I found to be enjoyable. 3 cheers for Kansas City!!!

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Driving through KC from Hartford to Denver one time, I decided to pull off the highway and see what the city was like. I must say, I loved the look of your city. There were fountains everywhere (from what I remember), which I found to be enjoyable. 3 cheers for Kansas City!!!

I did the same thing except i was driving from Denver to Buffalo. I had the same very positive impression of KC. I was surprised how nice downtown KC looked, and i thought about it and i realized that KC is probably the city i know least about. So it was a pleasant surprise on a long horrible drive accross completely empty states, although a rest area i stopped at in Kansas was probably the cleanest and nicest i've seen in my entire life. But that is kind of irrelevant. And now I'm going to be moving to KC and I'm pretty excited about it.

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My spouse is from Kansas City. A few impressions:

First off, very friendly people! A small-town kind of friendly, which is nice.

Feels like a nice place to raise a family.

I must say, I was disappointed by the KC skyline, though I love your art deco buildings.

Far too many empty parking lots and deserted streets downtown. Sounds like things are turning around, though.

Westport had a nice energy---liked Parkville, too.

Freeways are HORRIBLE!

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Living here my whole life, it is hard to make an unbaised comparison with other cities. However, yes, one problem with KC, as with a majority of cities in America is it is very spread out and is a sprawled city. KC(and by KC I mean the central city not the MSA-- many of the suburbs have been pretty much consumed by the city itself) has so much land (I think 3rd in the US), that alot of it has gone undeveloped. However that is changing rapidly- especially up north where I live. I would expect to see a larger increase in population in years to come. As far as downtown is concerned, our downtown is usually dead on saturdays, but once we get the arena, the power and light district, and the preforming arts center, I would expect it to be much more livley. I really like our skyline, but we need a few more glass buildings down there-- and possibly some in the crossroads arts district to fill in the gap between the two sets of buildings in the business district and they hyatt and crown center.

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I haven't really gotten to spend much time in the downtown core, though I loved every minute of the time I spent there, but the suburbs are the most sprawlerific thing I've ever seen. I've never seen so much clean-cut grass in all my life. I went to Wikipedia to look up how much land this city takes up. I was amazed. KC, MO, alone equals about a quarter of the size of my little state, Rhode Island. Throw in Independence and KC, KS, and basically the KC metro area is about half the size of RI. Yeah. I can't get over that.

Loved your art deco buildings. Drove the highway through your downtown at night. I wasn't the one doing the driving, thankfully. I did nothing but stare at those beauties whenever & wherever they were visible.

And north of KC proper, completely by accident, I found my way into my first true New Urbanist development. Hmm, I think it was called Zona Rosa or something like that. Interesting, but not big enough. Too many suburban hints peeping through.

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I haven't really gotten to spend much time in the downtown core, though I loved every minute of the time I spent there, but the suburbs are the most sprawlerific thing I've ever seen. I've never seen so much clean-cut grass in all my life. I went to Wikipedia to look up how much land this city takes up. I was amazed. KC, MO, alone equals about a quarter of the size of my little state, Rhode Island. Throw in Independence and KC, KS, and basically the KC metro area is about half the size of RI. Yeah. I can't get over that.

Loved your art deco buildings. Drove the highway through your downtown at night. I wasn't the one doing the driving, thankfully. I did nothing but stare at those beauties whenever & wherever they were visible.

And north of KC proper, completely by accident, I found my way into my first true New Urbanist development. Hmm, I think it was called Zona Rosa or something like that. Interesting, but not big enough. Too many suburban hints peeping through.

actually, zona rosa isnt really a defacto new urbanism development, as it has very little residential. it's an above average shopping center, really. and it is actually in KCMO proper, not North Kansas City (located sort of in middle of KCMO proper, north of downtown, confusing i know).

glad you like the art deco buildings, the power and light is my favorite, 909 walnut a close second.

one thing i love about kc is that it seems upbeat and bright, inspite of its problems. it's long term potential is exciting.

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Look, KC proper is growing and is starting to become one of the most impressive cities in America. People have positive peceptions about KC because of one word: Quality.

BTW, I dont even care about the density and all that crap. Only rotting has-been cities play the "density" card.

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