By Kevin Collison
The congested bus transit center at Tenth and Main is scheduled to be closed within two years, opening up space for a potential pocket park in the heart of downtown.
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority plans to relocate the 1/2-acre transit center, currently a hub for 15 bus routes, to a new, larger site in the East Village area at the southeast corner of 12th and Charlotte.
“Tenth and Main has been a wonderful place for the ATA to be but it’s too small,” said Robbie Makinen, president and CEO of the agency. “We’ve been clogging up that area.”
Makinen said the planned transit center at 12th and Charlotte fits with a plan to concentrate the downtown east-west bus routes along 11th and 12 streets. It also would serve the current Troost MAX bus rapid transit route and the planned Prospect MAX route.
The larger, 1.5-acre site also will allow the authority to build a transit-oriented development (TOD) for riders and others, potentially a coffee shop or similar services. It also would be convenient to the proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the larger, eight-block East Village area.
“We feel it’s a great fit for us,” Makinen said.
The closing of the 10th and Main center opens up new opportunities as well. The transit center is across from the Central Library and near a large concentration of apartment buildings in the Library District, notably the Library Lofts, Commerce Tower and the Ten Main buildings.
In surveys, residents often mention additional green space as something they would like to see downtown.
“We’re talking with the Downtown Council and the city to acquire the property from us,” Makinen said. “We’re thinking about some kind of green space, a situation where we’re all wanting the same same thing.”
Bill Dietrich, president and CEO of the Downtown Council, said his organization would like to manage the property for the city as open space. The organization has a similar agreement with Jackson County to manage Oppenstein Brothers Park at 12th and Walnut.
“It’s a skinny site,” he said. “The Urban Land Institute Study said we need green space and it’s in good shape. I think stakeholders there would help make it a fantastic space, a ‘front door’ to the Library District.”
Jared Campbell, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, said however, his group would ultimately like to see some type of development on the property.
“We’re aware of budget constraints that will turn it into green space for the short term,” he said, “but for the long term we’d like to see the parcel developed, especially because it’s on the streetcar route.”
Campbell envisioned a limited development that would include food trucks and pop-up retail opportunities, and retaining the signature fountain at the site.
The ATA expects to close on the purchase of the 12th and Charlotte site soon. The new transit facility is expected to be completed in about two years.