Published April 13th, 2023 at 7:12 AM3 minute read
The developer of city-owned property at 12th and Broadway wants to build a 13-story apartment building and ultimately expand the former Kansas City Southern headquarters. But the timing relies on the planned reconstruction of Barney Allis Plaza.
The proposal by what’s now Canadian Pacific Kansas City and Americo was outlined Wednesday at a City Council committee meeting. The plan calls for a 255-unit apartment building along Broadway in the second phase and the new office expansion in the third.
But until the Barney Allis Plaza project is completed, the first phase would be a pocket park at the corner of 12th and Broadway and continued surface parking. That’s because parking at the site will be needed until a new Barney Allis Plaza and garage are completed.
While the council committee delayed consideration of an agreement to allow the city manager to negotiate with the developer to learn more about the plan’s details, members did signal ultimate support.
“It helps us in several ways,” said Councilman Eric Bunch. “It continues to allow the growth of a great company that’s headquartered here as its expansion continues in the United States.
“We also get more housing and I think that’s important to activate what’s a pretty dead corner outside the work hours.”
The big question, however, involves Barney Allis Plaza.
It will cost an estimated $112 million to rebuild the crumbling city-owned civic plaza and its underground garage, and so far the city has not identified funding or a timetable.
And Mayor Quinton Lucas, a member of the committee, expressed his lack of enthusiasm for the Barney Allis project.
“I don’t know where we have $112 million for Barney Allis Plaza,” he said. “It is not my highest-ranking priority in the city and the council will have to debate that at some point.”
As for the 12th and Broadway project, the committee meeting provided the first look at what the developers have in mind:
Phase 1: A flexible event green space would be created on the corner of 12th and Broadway during the reconstruction of Barney Allis Plaza and its garage. Work would begin within 12 months of an agreement being signed. Parking would be provided for the convention center while Barney Allis project is in construction.
Phase 2: Construction of a 225-unit apartment building with street level retail would begin within 18 to 24 months after completion of Barney Allis Plaza project. Parking would be provided in the existing company 975-space underground garage.
Phase 3: A headquarters office expansion project would be built. The timing would depend on the needs of the company, and parking would be provided by the existing garage. The corner park would continue to be maintained.
In addition, the new development would provide 300 garage parking spaces for the convention center on nights and weekends, and 100 during the day. That would allow the city to replace the existing Barney Allis garage with a smaller one.
The value of the parking to be provided to the city was estimated at $12 million.
“There is a coordinated working schedule between the city and our effort to revive Barney Allis Plaza and the developer’s willingness to work with us … so we can still have parking available for our use,” said Mario Vasquez, assistant city manager.
The development agreement calls for the city to sell what’s now parking lots at 1200 and 1210 Broadway next to the railroad company’s office building. The city purchased the lots in 2020 for $5.4 million.
Federal regulators recently approved the $31 billion merger of KC Southern and Canadian Pacific into a new entity called Canadian Pacific Kansas City.
The new railroad will be the first North American carrier spanning the United States, Canada and Mexico. Canadian Pacific is expected to officially take control in mid-April.
As part of the plan, the U.S. headquarters of the expanded railroad will be shifted from Minneapolis to Kansas City. There are about 200 employees at the Minneapolis headquarters, although the firm has not determined how many would be transferred.
Kansas City Southern opened its current six-story headquarters at the southeast corner of 12th and Washington streets in 2002. It was designed by BNIM architects, and the architectural firm’s webpage said a second building is envisioned for the property to the east.
Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.