By Kevin Collison
The planned $310 million convention hotel project is expected to create a better pedestrian connection between major downtown destinations as well as provide dramatic views for its guests, its architect says.
“We believe that this building should be designed for the residents of Kansas City,” architect Bob Neal of Atlanta-based Cooper Carry told the City Plan Commission Tuesday.
“It will be a physical member of the community, and as such, it should provide more than a functional and attractive building, but should contribute to the experiences that will be unique to Kansas City.”
Backers of the planned Hyatt Regency Convention Center Hotel were before the Plan Commission to seek approval of an amendment to a previous development plan for the 3-acre property bound by Wyandotte, Baltimore, 16th Street and Truman Road.
That amendment won unanimous approval and will now go the City Council for final consideration.
Mike Burke of KC Hotel Developers says the next step will be obtaining a final construction estimate from J.E. Dunn Construction in May. Notice will then be given for the American Hereford Association to vacate its building on the site, which will be razed.
If all goes according to plan, construction would begin in late summer with a late 2019 or early 2020 completion.
“We know we have 20,000 Shriners coming to Kansas City in 2020 as well as other large conventions,” says Burke, referring to major events already booked for the planned hotel.
The presentation by KC Hotel Developers also offered the latest design renderings for the 22-story, 800-room hotel complex, and insights into how the project will fit into the cityscape.
While the main lobby will be off Wyandotte Street across from Bartle Hall, a smaller “jump lobby” at the northeast corner on Baltimore Avenue should become the primary access for people walking between such attractions as the Power & Light District, Sprint Center and Kauffman Center.
That’s because the L-shaped hotel tower will straddle the bluff that divides the site. The Baltimore side is 44 feet below Wyandotte, and hotel elevators will allow both guests and non-guests to skip that steep grade.
City planners are working with the developer to improve the pedestrian crossing across Truman Road, which serves as a busy off-ramp from Interstate 670 at that location.
Other details of the project include a four-level, 450-space parking garage on the southeast side at 16th and Baltimore. Three levels of meeting and ballroom space totaling 94,000 square feet will be on top of the garage.
The plan also calls for two restaurants, one run by the Hyatt, the other an independent operator. The independent restaurant is planned for near the jump lobby on the northeast side at Baltimore and Truman.
Neal said the hotel restaurant and lounge will include outdoor terrace seating. He said all of the rooms and public spaces are being designed to offer excellent views of the surrounding downtown buildings.
And in a nod to the dynamic sweeping stainless steel curves of the Kauffman Center facing the hotel, the architect says curving walls constructed of metal panels will extend from the southwest side of the hotel conference center to “recognize” its neighbor.
“Our approach has been to craft a building that responds to its context,” Neal says. “Adjacent to Bartle Hall and the Kauffman Center, and sitting on its perch outside the Power & Light District, the Kansas City Hyatt Regency will build on ideas and principles that already exist.”
A pedestrian overpass also will link the hotel with the Bartle Hall Grand Ballroom across Wyandotte.
This article originally appeared on the KCUR public radio website