(Editor’s Note: This article originally was published May 7, 2021)
By Kevin Collison
It still may be a challenging place to shop or bike ride, but regardless, a new survey of downtown residents finds an overwhelming majority very satisfied they chose to live in the heart of the city.
The 45-question survey conducted last winter by the Downtown Council found 92 percent of the 830 residents who responded were either satisfied or very satisfied with their decision to live downtown.
High on their positive list was the diverse architectural fabric of downtown, a sense of personal safety during the day, the work of the Downtown Community Improvement District ambassadors and the ease of getting to other places in the metro.
“Everyone is aware of the history we have downtown and the great buildings,” Jared Campbell, told members of the Downtown Council board Thursday.
“Obviously, we’ve lost some over the years, but we’ve been able to retain a lot of our historic buildings and that adds to that built urban fabric, one of the unique aspects of downtown Kansas City.”
The lowest marks were given to lack of shopping choices; green space and recreation options; services including healthcare and banking; bike-ability, and the availability and cost of public parking.
Not surprisingly, the biggest retail wants by respondents were a City Target and a Trader Joe’s.
As for green space, the survey didn’t necessarily mean downtown residents wanted more, there already are several parks in the area, but would like better green space that includes more dog parks, walking trails, sports courts, art amenities and restrooms.
“We heard loud and clear from the residents that they want more programming within the green space downtown, more dog parks,” said Campbell, who is the Downtown Council’s resident liaison.
“We have the concert series and we’re working with our partner organizations to create more opportunities to engage residents both during the day and in the evening within the parks downtown.
“We’re really focused on Case Park as one of the signature parks within Quality Hill since that’s surrounded by residents.”
When asked what their “big ideas” for future major investments downtown, respondents suggested a downtown ballpark, which has the interest of the Royals owner, and decking the South Loop with a park to connect downtown with the Crossroads.
Since the last resident survey in 2013, the greater downtown population has grown 63 percent, from 20,599 people to 33,523, according to Downtown Council estimates.
The survey found many of the respondents had moved downtown within the past five years.
Forty-five percent lived alone and 53.2 percent were in two-person households. Not surprisingly, 94.6 percent lived in households without children.
Those results reinforce residential development choices that have occurred downtown since its current revitalization began 20 years ago, a market dominated by studio and one-bedroom apartments with a more limited number of two-bedroom units.
Most of the respondents, 87.3 percent, where white, and 6.5 percent were Black or Hispanic.
When asked which downtown activities they’ve participated in the largest majority, 91 percent, was Kansas City Restaurant Week. It was followed by off-leash dog parks, 45 percent; Art in the Loop, 40.4 percent, and 816 Day, 25.5 percent.
“For being a relatively new ‘holiday,’ (816 Day) really has made a nice impression on the residents downtown and has a lot of participation and we look to continue to grow it,” Campbell said.
When asked where they get their downtown information, respondents cited social media, 77.1 percent; Internet, 67.5 percent; television, 32.6 percent; CityScene KC, 31.5 percent; neighborhood newsletters, 29.3 percent, and internal building news, 28.7 percent.
The Downtown Council plans to use the survey results to improve its social media outreach and create a more robust resident section on its website.
The information also will used to attract retail and support the Greenline initiative, a hiking and biking loop proposed for around downtown.
Another resident survey is being planned for early 2022.
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