Join our family of curious Kansas Citians

Discover unheard stories about Kansas City, every Thursday.

Thank you for subscribing!

Check your inbox, you should see something from us.

Sign Me Up
Hit enter to search or ESC to close

South Loop Link Plan On Course to Line Up $115M in Funding City Weighs $10 Million Investment

Share this story
Above image credit: The South Loop Link would deck a four-block stretch of Interstate 670 with a park. (Courtesy | City of Kansas City)
Sponsor Message Become a Flatland sponsor
3 minute read

Kansas City is poised to contribute $10 million to the proposed South Loop Link project, an amount backers hope will leverage the total raised for the four-block park to more than $115 million by year’s end.

A City Council committee unanimously endorsed the request Wednesday. It is expected to be considered by the full council today.

The $10 million city pledge would be the local match for a $15 million state tax credit application expected to be submitted to the Missouri Development Finance Board this summer, according to Jerry Riffel, an attorney for the South Loop Link plan.

One of the three concepts for the South Loop Link project calls for keeping the downtown street grid intact, the others would close either Baltimore or Walnut.
One of the three concepts for the South Loop Link project calls for keeping the downtown street grid intact, the others would close either Baltimore or Walnut. (Courtesy | City of Kansas City)

The $15 million in tax credits are expected to leverage at least $30 million in private donations. The proposal already has lined up $57.2 million in federal and state assistance and raised $18 million so far from private sources.

All combined, assuming the tax credits leverage the projected private donations, supporters have identified $115.2 million for the estimated $200 million project. That budget includes a $40 million contingency fund.

The idea of decking the South Loop with a park has been pursued for at least 15 years, but has made rapid progress in recent years in an effort led by the Downtown Council, an association of business and property owners.

The 4.6-acre park would span the Interstate 670 freeway trench from Wyandotte Street to Grand Boulevard, covering what’s now a noisy freeway with recreational space and reconnecting the central business district with the Crossroads area.

Engineering and design work is currently underway under a development process being managed by Port KC.

A rendering of how the South Loop Link might look to future pedestrians.
A rendering of how the South Loop Link might look to future pedestrians. (Rendering | OJB Landscape Architecture)

OJB Landscape Architecture of Houston has been hired to design the park. OJB designed the Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, a park covering part of a downtown freeway that’s considered a model for what’s proposed in Kansas City.

The firm has produced three potential layouts for the green space above the South Loop, two of which would close a downtown street, Baltimore or Walnut, and the third would leave the downtown street grid open.

The council committee deliberations focused on whether the project would follow city requirements for procurement, hiring women and minority contractors, pay prevailing wages, and how the park would be maintained and managed.

Aerial photo of the South Loop of the downtown freeway in Kansas City.
The South Loop was built in the 1960s to speed traffic, but is now considered a noisy barrier dividing downtown. (Courtesy | Port KC RFQ)

“The challenge is we are building so many great amenities, but we don’t have a strong plan for maintenance,” said Councilwoman Melissa Robinson. “We need to make sure we’re clear to taxpayers … that it needs to be managed properly”

Advocates for the project have said the park would be maintained and programmed by a nonprofit group yet to be established.

Riffel suggested that some of the funding would come from nearby private property owners who would most benefit from the park.

The plan already has attracted a $10 million donation from H&R Block and associated foundations as well as $5 million from the Loews Hotel.

An additional $3 million has been pledged by JE Dunn Construction, Canadian Pacific Kansas City, the Power & Light District, the Cordish Cos. and 1400 Baltimore, an office building developed for Blue Cross Blue Shield by the Merriman Family.

The Loews Convention Hotel overlooks the South Loop as do the Two Light and Three Light apartment towers developed by Cordish, and the 1400 Baltimore building. Cordish and JE Dunn also have proposed a 500-unit apartment project on Main just south of I-670.

Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.

Like what you are reading?

Discover more unheard stories about Kansas City, every Thursday.

Thank you for subscribing!

Check your inbox, you should see something from us.

Enter Email
Your support helps Flatland’s storytellers cover the issues that matter to this community. Give what you can to help in-depth, nonprofit journalism thrive in Kansas City. Support Local Journalism
Sponsor Message Become a Flatland sponsor

Ready to read next

Young Adults with Disabilities Want Independence. Guardianship Is a Hurdle.

In the Kansas City area, self-advocates and public guardians see a need for a more tailored approach to support adults with disabilities

Read Story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *