By Kevin Collison
Plans for a $2 million bar and outdoor recreation center in Berkley Park that would cater to volleyball players and anyone enjoying the riverfront were outlined Monday to a Port KC committee.
The proposed 6,500 square-foot amenity would resemble the popular Bar K dog park and bar nearby, using former shipping containers to construct a contemporay-designed, permanent park amenity.
It builds on the attraction of sand volleyball leagues managed by KC Crew which attract up to 1,200 players weekly during its season.
“As we look to do this, it’s not to change the focus of Berkley Park as a place for charity events, as a place for gathering and picnicking, biking, running and walking,” said Jon Stephens, Port KC president and CEO.
“It’s adding yet another amenity to it to make it more of a world class destination for all of Kansas City.”
The Bar + Rec project is being planned by Luke Wade and Mark Musselman, who’ve recently opened a similar facility called REC Hall in St. Charles.
“Mark and I are both from Kansas City and we’re really excited to bring the REC Hall mantra, of keeping people around, offering them fun games and food and beverages, down to the riverfront,” Wade said.
The project, which is expected to open next spring, would include a full cocktail bar with beer and wine, yard games and indoor and outdoor seating. It won’t have a kitchen, but food truck vendors will be welcome.
During the winter months, ice skating is eventually planned, making the facility a year-round attraction. It also will include public restrooms open to anyone visiting Berkley Park, an amenity currently lacking.
The planned Bar + Rec is part of a big jump in activity at the downtown riverfront after decades of relative quiet. Port KC also is in talks with an operator for a planned outdoor music venue with a capacity of up to 6,000 people on the east end of the park.
The streetcar is expected to be extended from the River Market down the Grand Viaduct to the west edge of the park by early 2024. Hundreds of new apartments also have been built or are under construction at the riverfront.
“We’ve seen considerable growth,” Stephens said. “As you look at urban planning in Kansas City and throughout the country, and look at parks, green spaces are easy but not usually successful.
“You need to activation and programming in that space in order to become a vibrant destination.”
The development plan calls for Bar + Rec property to be owned by Port KC and leased to the private operators, much the same as the current arrangement for Bar K, which also is on Port property.
Mark Moberly with Sunflower Development Group is serving as a development consultant for the project. and Clockwork is the design firm. A general contractor will be selected via Port KC’s RFP process.
The Bar + Rec riverfront project still must be approved by the Port KC board, which has previously shown support for the plan.
This is the second go around for Musselman and Wade when it comes to pursuing a downtown entertainment venue.
In 2019, the partners were planning an entertainment venue also called Bar + Rec that was to have occupied the former loading dock area of the historic Kansas City Star building now being redeveloped as Grand Place by Vince Bryant of 3D Development.
That plan called for sand volleyball courts to be built on a former parking lot on the north side of the old building with outdoor seating and a large bar and game room inside. The concept however, didn’t move forward.
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