The Urban Land Institute herded roughly 60 real estate development professionals aboard the Kansas City streetcar Wednesday morning to investigate just how many development opportunities currently exist along the streetcar route. The answer? A lot.
The tour was open exclusively to ULI members, and was preceded by a breakfast on the top of Harvey’s at Union Station along with a panel of experts consisting of Bill Dietrich, president and CEO of the Downtown Council, Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, and Gerald Williams, lead planner for the City of Kansas City, Missouri.
Ferd Nieman with White Goss, one of the ULI Young Leaders responsible for planning the event, threw each presenter a few softball questions on their role in the streetcar project and then opened the floor for additional questions and discussion from the audience. It was impressive to hear how supportive the core downtown business community was in passing the streetcar public financing package, and how that has already translated into hundreds of millions of dollars in downtown reinvestment. The panelists already are in discussions about where to extend the line next; whether it’s to UMKC through the Plaza, North to the riverfront, or East along the Rock Island corridor.
Following the streetcar panel everyone promptly got up, ran Harvey’s out of Parisi coffee, and then walked down to the Union Station streetcar to catch the next vehicle.
Each attendee received a map produced by the ULI Young Leader Group management committee (including Nick Christopher with GouldEvans and Russell Pearson with NAI Heartland) which highlighted available on and off-market redevelopment opportunities within a half-mile of the streetcar line.
Several attendees even rode the streetcar to and from the event including Aaron Schlagel with Copaken Brooks who showed off the ongoing Corrigan Station project.
Aided by the map and generally good company, the group made their way on the roughly 30-minute round trip to the Rivermarket and back, discussing everything from downtown ballpark locations, highest and best uses for parking lots, and what to do with an iconic downtown newspaper production facility when the day comes that a printed newspaper is no longer relevant.
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