By Kevin Collison
Downtown has a great, new photo op, patrons have new places to relax and merchants have improved their visibility courtesy of the return of Walnut Street to the City Market after a 30-year absence.
An informal dedication is expected this week for the city project which in addition to reconnecting Walnut between Fifth and Third streets after a long hiatus, added new landscaping, decorative street lights and seating areas to the City Market.
“We are so excited about it,” said Sue Patterson, marketing director for the City Market.
“The walkability and drivability of it will change the dynamic of the City Market, and help our merchants and restaurants be seen and explored.”
The project was designed by Confluence, a River Market-based planning and architecture firm, and was done by a partnership between the City Public Works and City Planning and Development Departments, Port KC and the City Market.
Work was essentially completed Friday and a soft opening may be held this week with a more formal opening ceremony later depending on public health restrictions, said Maggie Green, Public Works spokeswoman.
“We’re really proud of the project and happy with the progress,” she said. “We didn’t have any major delays despite the current circumstances.
“From what we’ve seen, the additional pedestrian amenities and the attention-getting City Market sigh will give it even more a sense of place than before.”
The bold contemporary City Market entrance sign at Third Street already has become a place for photos with the downtown skyline as backdrop. Patterson said it’s a great bookend to the longtime City Market arch sign at Fifth Street.
“I think it’s an excellent photo op for visitors,” she said. “It frames the skyline so well. I like the Fifth Street with its old arch and the Third Street sign gives a fresh, new hip look just like the City Market. That’s what we’re about.”
From a pragmatic view, reconnecting Walnut also allows better access and more visibility to City Market merchants, particularly those on the east side of the area. Previously, drivers had to wind their way around the market vendor pavilions to access businesses.
The street and additional parking spaces will be open on weekdays and closed on weekends when the farmer’s market foot traffic is heaviest.
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