‘Greenline’ Concept Would Loop Downtown with Recreational Trail

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The proposed Greenline would be similar to the 22-mile BeltLine in Atlanta, a recreational loop along a former rail corridor that draws 2 million visitors a year. (Image from BeltLine website)

By Kevin Collison

An ambitious plan to create a 10-mile “Greenline” recreational loop around downtown similar to the popular BeltLine in Atlanta is being championed by developer Vince Bryant.

“It’s not a new idea,” Bryant told the Downtown Council board last week. “Most progressive cities have rails to trails projects.

“The goal is to have people come off streets and parking lots, and come on to paths that connect our green spaces.”

Vincent said the proposed south leg of the Greenline concept could be relatively inexpensive.

It calls for repurposing an underused access road that runs east and west along the north side of the Kansas City Terminal Railway. The busy Terminal rail corridor divides the Crossroads District from Crown Center and Hospital Hill.

The proposed 10-mile Greenline would loop around downtown from the along the KC Terminal Railway on south, MLK Boulevard on east, riverfront to the north and West Bottoms on west. (Map from The Greenline)

The access road runs about one mile and could become a recreational pathway connecting the new Crossroads Westside apartments at 601 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez on the west to the 18th & Vine Jazz District on the east.

Architect Steve McDowell of BNIM has been working with Bryant more than two years on the idea.

He said while the proposed south leg of the Greenline would parallel the railroad tracks, it would not replace or repurpose them.

“We’re working with the city to get right-of-way access,” he said.

Bryant already is familiar with what would be the south leg of Greenline loop through his development work. He is the owner of 3D Development.

He has a contract to purchase the Superior Moving & Storage buildings at 2020 Walnut, which are close to the KC Terminal tracks. His tentative plan calls for renovating the historic buildings into office space.

He currently is pursuing a 250-unit apartment project called Tracks 215 on a parking lot bordering the south side of the KC Terminal tracks next to the Freight House building.

Developer Vince Bryant has a contract to purchase the Superior Moving & Storage buildings.

Bryant also redeveloped the nearby historic Candle Building at 2101 Broadway and the historic Creamery Building at 2100 Central into office space.

And the developer partnered on the redevelopment of the Corrigan Station building and is in in the middle of a massive $95 million redevelopment of the historic former Kansas City Star building.

Bryant told the Downtown Council board he believes the next step in the revitalization of downtown is to make it a more livable community.

In addition to the access road, the broad outline of the Greenline loop would follow Martin Luther King (formerly The Paseo) Boulevard on the east, the existing Riverfront Heritage Trail on the north and through the West Bottoms along the Kansas River on the west.

“The idea is to take advantage of the park system we already have,” McDowell said.

The two Greenline advocates compared their idea to several other cities where rail corridors have been repurposed for recreational use: the High Line in New York, The Bentway in Toronto and the BeltLine in Atlanta.

Backers of The Greenline want to adopt an underused access road along the KC Terminal Railway as the south leg of the trail. (Image from The Greenline)

The BeltLine in Atlanta is transforming 22 miles of former railroad corridor land into bike and walking trails, and ultimately a streetcar line. It attracts 2 million visitors annually and has spurred $4.1 billion in redevelopment along the route, according to its website.

The Greenline proponents have applied to the city Public Improvement Advisory Committee for funding for a feasibility study.

The advocates are looking a federal, state, local and philanthropic sources, along with potential tax-increment financing from adjoining development projects.

Following the presentation, the Downtown Council board approved its support for the concept. The Greenline proposal also has been endorsed by the Crossroads Community Association.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I am not sure who this will serve and at what cost to other initiatives. Will this ring do more to divide the city even more so? We are looking to refocus on the neighborhoods and all that effort entails. There are numerous developments right now all vying for incentives and other limited resources in our city. This is just one more. Referring to the comment of making the city more liveable, we are struggling for safety, decent housing, grocery store, adequate trash pickup and yes, neighborhoods we can live in.

  2. I don’t understand your concerns, Jan. It connects Paseo/MLK to the West Bottoms. That’s pretty damn inclusive when it comes to neighborhoods.

    My only concern is that it runs the risk of continuing to gentrify the East Side, which continues to push folks further East and out of affordable housing. We are already seeing this happen on northern edge of Troost, and this kind of thing runs the risk of increasing crime as more and more people are pushed out of affordable housing.

  3. It all depends on how the funding for the project falls into place. A combination of grants for trail projects and private donors wouldn’t take away money from other uses, but relying on tax-increment financing might if the TIF wouldn’t have been necessary for those developments otherwise.

    Also, the real reason I’m posting is to hop on the name train. But no intention of poking fun at your name, Jan!

  4. Find one economist that has a problem with gentrification. Name one city on earth that has improved impoverished areas without people with more money moving into them. You can’t. The best thing that could ever happen to the East Side is for people with money to move there. Look at Minneapolis. That should be our model, not St. Louis.

    • Yes an economist might not have an issue with gentrification but have you talked to people affected by it? People not affording the homes they live in doesn’t help the real people of Kansas City.

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