By Kevin Collison
The developer of the proposed Pennway Point entertainment district, a project near Union Station that includes a 170-foot Ferris wheel, won critical approval this week that opens access to hundreds of parking spaces vital to the development’s success.
The City Plan Commission endorsed a request to transfer half of the Jefferson street right-of-way to developer Vince Bryant. The move allows private access to parking beneath the Interstate 35 viaduct needed to serve the project.
Together with other parking that would be located beneath the West Pennway and Pershing viaduct, the utilization of what’s current dead space beneath the two bridges would furnish 400 parking spaces for the Pennway Point plan.
“It’s about the best utilization you can get for these areas under bridges that you can’t develop or build on,” Bryant said.
“They’re ideal for parking which makes this an ideal site for this entertainment district.”
Elements of the Pennway Point concept include:
–A 170-foot tall Ferris wheel with heated and cooled gondolas that would be operated year-round by a separate firm, Icon Experiences. Icon also is proposing an outdoor miniature golf course as part of the project.
–A home for the LUMI neon indoor and outdoor museum being pursued by Nick Vedros.
–A “tailgate park” with yard games.
–Redevelopment of the 100 year-old former Carter Waters building at 2440 West Pennway into a mixed-use space that could include a restaurant and a rooftop indoor/outdoor patio.
A future phase could include a new, 28,000 square-foot building with residential units and first floor retail; a brewery, tasting room and covered beer garden, and a “burger joint” in a renovated 1908 brick depot building with lounge areas, live music stage and billiards.
A preliminary application with the City Planning Department estimated the first phase cost of Pennway Point at $25.3 million.
Bryant told the Plan Commission the Pennway Point development would transform a stagnant industrial district into a new downtown destination.
“It’s been an unsightly, three-acre site right in the middle of downtown,” he said. “Our plans is to convert this to a family friendly entertainment district.
“This isn’t another Power and Light District. This is recreation-based entertainment…This is a reimagining of an industrial site where we aren’t just bulldozing all the buildings.”
The proposed development site would be located directly across West Pennway from the massive IRS Processing Center and about three blocks east of the Boulevard Brewery complex and its Beer Hall.
Combined with nearby Union Station, Crown Center, the Federal Reserve Bank money museum, and the World War I Museum and Memorial, the Pennway Point plan could reinforce what’s already an important family entertainment destination.
There was one opponent to the Jefferson vacation request from the Westside Neighborhood Association.
“The encroachment on the neighborhood is getting to be too much, we’ve got all kinds of buildings already and there’s no parking anywhere around there,” said Richard Hernandez, president of the organization.
The Plan Commission endorsed the street vacation unanimously.
While Bryant said the area already is properly zoned for his plan, he told commissioners the final development plan and individual projects will return to the them for review.
Don’t miss any downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.