By Kevin Collison
The Imagine Downtown KC project launched by the Downtown Council last summer is deep into reimagining a new relationship between downtown as most people know it and surrounding neighborhoods as far as Pendleton Heights and Beacon Hill.
“This plan is changing our perception of downtown,” said Lynn Carlton, chairwoman of the Downtown Council board. “A healthy downtown needs healthy neighborhoods.
“Our last plan was more on the office side and business, which has grown and thrived. We need to include the residential as well.”
The Imagine Downtown KC strategic planning process began in July and has included a Zoom community workshop and multiple meetings with community groups, focus groups and even a regular podcast to generate discussion.
It will continue next Tuesday (Dec. 15) with a second Zoom community workshop that will brief participants on the planning process and how its progressing. The event is from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
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Ann Holliday, a vice president at the Downtown Council, said the new strategic plan which is expected to help guide priorities for the next 10 years, seeks to create a stronger bond between downtown and its nearby neighborhoods.
“We’re trying to be more inclusive by building new relationships,” she said. “Something we’ve hear about in surrounding neighborhoods are concerns about gentrification and displacement.”
In defining the Imagine Downtown KC area, the Downtown Council has adopted the Greater Downtown Area Plan established by the City Planning Department. It goes as far east as Woodland Avenue, north to Wheeler Airport, west to State Line and south to 31st Street.
The draft vision statement calls a downtown that’s equitable, inclusive and vibrant. Other key words that have been identified in the process so far include dynamic, affordable, connected, authentic and resilient, Holliday said.
Preliminary goals include ensuring a livable city for all; connecting downtown neighborhoods; nurturing a prosperous, innovative and creative economy; preserving and enhancing downtown’s unique assets, and making downtown sustainable and green.
Carlton said the Imagine Downtown KC process is in a good position heading into next week’s virtual community workshop.
“This plan is focusing more on neighborhoods and retaining the strong identity of our neighborhoods while connecting them to the larger whole of downtown,” she said.
“We want to make sure the economic benefits go both ways.”
Carlton expects the Imagine Downtown KC process will be completed by February. The next step will be for the consultants, MIG Consulting, to document the results and help the Downtown Council to determine concrete steps moving forward.
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