By Kevin Collison
Three years after being hired by Union Station Kansas City to explore options for redeveloping property it owns on the north side of Washington Square Park, VanTrust Real Estate remains undecided about the best plan moving forward.
“We’ve looked at everything from a single use to a mixed-use of office, residential and retail,” said Rich Muller, VanTrust executive vice president.
In the meantime, Muller said the firm has renamed the nearby Two Pershing Square building it bought last November “2300 Main” as part of a rebranding effort. The 11-story building was sold by Gateway Harrison Inc. It’s about 75 percent occupied. The federal General Services Administration relocated 900 employees there in 2015.
But it’s Washington Square Park and its prospects for its rejuvenation that’s the focal point for downtown advocates.
While VanTrust has been studying the Union Station property currently used by Blue Cross/Blue Shield for parking, the future of the 4.7-acre park itself has been the subject of a collaborative study by Coen + Associates along with the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department and the Kansas City Design Center.
“We’ve been running down parallel paths to see what the right solution is,” Muller said. “We’re excited about that area and it’s also the terminus of the streetcar…it’s a tricky part of the city, but nothing that can’t be overcome.”
Complicating any redevelopment plan for the property owned by Union Station is the requirement that replacement parking be provided for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. There are 560 spaces currently on the 4.9-acre site. The site itself borders railroad tracks and lies below the grade of the park.
“We’re trying to find the right combination of things to activate that area,” Muller said. “We want to get bodies there, whether its residential, office or both.”