Published March 28th, 2023 at 11:30 AM2 minute read
By Kevin Collison
First it was the streetcar extension, then the new KC Current professional soccer stadium and now a big beer garden is in store for a downtown riverfront that up until the past decade was a pretty sleepy place.
The KC Port board approved a development agreement Monday with The Thrash Group of Mississippi to operate an 8,200 square-foot, two-story beer hall and patio in the heart of Berkley Riverfront Park.
The Thrash Group is building a 120-room Origin KC hotel nearby and Port KC officials believed they are an excellent candidate for running what’s expected to be a multi-million dollar project owned by the authority and anticipated to be open most of the year.
Three years ago, Port KC had been working with a local group, Bar + Rec, on a similar project, but Jon Stephens, executive director of the authority, said that plan never took off.
“We did work with them (Bar + Rec) but ultimately The Thrash Group came in with the ability to partner and bring this to life in a quality the park deserves and the riverfront deserves,” Stephens said.
The plan calls for construction to begin by late summer with completion anticipated in 2024 about the same time the Origin hotel opens across the street and the KC Current stadium opens just to the east.
The streetcar extension from the River Market to a location at the midpoint of the south edge of Berkley Park also is expected to open in 2024. There also is a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge planned for parallel to the Grand Boulevard viaduct leading to the riverfront.
“The beer garden will offer more outdoor food and entertainment options to residents in the riverfront neighborhood, Kansas City residents looking for more outdoor entertainment,” according to a press release.
“It’s a step toward Port KC’s plan to make Berkley Riverfront a must-experience KC destination.
The planned beer garden also will be located in a grove of trees that are part of a large landscaping plan being pursued by Port KC. Stephens estimated 250 new trees will be planted in the park and along the Heritage trail along the river over the next couple years.
As for the sand volleyball courts used by KC Crew for amateur leagues, Stephens said the courts will have to be relocated in a year. The authority is currently looking for a new location and anticipates keeping the courts in the riverfront area.
That’s a switch from the original Bar + Rec proposal. It had been intended to be an integral service for the volleyball courts which now will apparently be replaced by trees.
Local design firm KEM Studio has designed the beer hall building to blend in with the park’s current surroundings, according to the release.
“It’s expected to use simple and refined building materials immersing the visitor into the neighboring park atmosphere,” the release stated.
In addition to the new attractions and streetcar, the Berkley Riverfront Park area has become a popular place to live.
The 410-unit Union at Berkley Park and the 348-unit CORE development were completed the past couple years and LuxLiving is pursuing a 250-unit apartment project in the riverfront area.