Published April 5th, 2022 at 6:00 AM
Kansas City PBS has launched the public phase of its “Picture This” campaign, a $16.5 million initiative that will renovate its office and news production facility near 31st and Main streets, and strengthen its multi-platform journalism work.
The bulk of the funds, $12.5 million, will be used to renovate and re-envision the complex housing the organization offices, and the news and programming operations of KCPBS public television, the Flatland news website and the 90.9 The Bridge radio station.
The collective space is actually comprised of five buildings knit together over the years.
The most noticeable change will be the demolition of an interior building where the current cafeteria and newsroom were located to create an outdoor community courtyard. A new “living room” space also will be created for small events and performances.
Another $2 million will go toward technology upgrades and the final $2 million will be used for additional content creation.
Kansas City PBS has raised the bulk of the $16.5 million through private donations and other sources and is seeking the final $800,000 in the public phase of its fundraising effort.
“Since we first went on the air, Kansas City PBS has relied upon the support of our generous community to bring civic affairs, arts, education and history to life on our channels,” Kliff Kuehl, president and CEO of Kansas City PBS, said in a statement.
“As we look to expand the impact of public media, we’re asking our neighbors to picture this: public media that lifts our community, provokes constructive dialogue and informs us all while leading us to action.”
“Picture This” is described as a “community engagement initiative designed to make public media more accessible for all through expanded coverage, deeper support of local journalism and a renovation of its historic headquarters,” according to a press release.
“Innovation will be fostered through modern floor plans and equipment, sparked by collaborative spaces inside and out that will provide an inspiring backdrop to contemplate projects and entertain ideas.
“This re-envisioned space will also allow the station to invite the public in for panel discussions, concerts and screenings, offering a hub for the community to experience the valuable services that Kansas City PBS provides firsthand.”
Kansas City public television began in 1961 at the former Board of Education building in downtown, and relocated to its current facility at 125 E. 31st St., which had been the studio for KCTV5, in 1978.
The last significant renovation occurred in 2013, when The Hale Center news and production facility opened.
The El Dorado architecture firm has been commissioned to redesign the current complex. A.L. Huber is the contractor.
“Kansas City PBS is a community treasure,” David Dowell, AIA Partner at El Dorado, said in a statement. “Once in a generation, they avail themselves of a well-earned facility refresh.
“My hope is that our collective efforts over the past three plus years yield a healthier, more flexible and functional place to do good work.”
The renovation project is expected to be completed in early 2023. In the interim, most employees will either work from home or in temporary space at the Plexpod Westport Commons.
Kansas City PBS serves more than 800,000 people each month with local content garnering over 1.75 million impressions.
“Kansas City PBS’ local programs highlight the strengths of our community while not shying away from the challenges that are keeping us from reaching our full potential,” Kuehl said in the release.
“We don’t do this alone. We harness collective resources through our partnerships with civic, business and nonprofit organizations.”
The “Picture This” campaign has received community philanthropic investment of nearly $13 million, according to the release.
Major supporters include The Sunderland Foundation, Mollie Hale Carter, Marlese and Robert Gourley, Francis Family Foundation, Hall Family Foundation and Mike and Marlys Haverty.
Sunflower Development Group and Enterprise Bank & Trust also assisted the initiative and helped Kansas City PBS receive an allocation of New Markets Tax Credits.
“Now that we have all experienced a time that reminds us of the importance of community and the need for understanding … this work is an exciting example of what is possible when we come together,” Mollie Hale Carter, “Picture This” campaign chair, said in a statement.
Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.