By Kevin Collison
UMKC may build a small arena for events, concerts and athletics as part of a redevelopment project it’s planning near the south terminus of the streetcar extension.
The proposal was mentioned in a State of the University speech given by Chancellor Mauli Agawal Monday.
“We have real proof of what we are capable of, our successes and positive momentum – and people are paying attention more than ever before,” Agrawal said about the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“To quote a certain two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback from Kansas City – ‘We’re just getting started.’”
There were no details about the design, funding or timetable for the redevelopment concept by the streetcar stop other than saying it could include a mix of retail, housing and a small arena.
“The university will begin exploratory work this spring that could turn vacant land near the proposed stop into a campus and community destination,” according to a press release.
Two years ago, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved a master plan for the site by the planned streetcar stop at 51st and Brookside Boulevard that included housing for 500 students.
The proposed development site is where the ill-fated Oak Place Apartment project had been located. That 500-student residential development opened in 2008 and was closed in 2018 because of water and mold damage.
The planned streetcar stop is also next to Brookside 51, a 170-unit apartment project and Whole Foods grocery store built by VanTrust Real Estate in 2018.
Agrawal said an interim use for the former Oak Place site would be student recreational fields for soccer and a cricket pitch expected to open this summer.
“We want students to be able to enjoy that greenspace until we determine final future plans for that university land,” Agrawal said.
Another major campus improvement in the works is converting 51st Street between Cherry and Rockhill Road to a pedestrian mall.
“I can just imagine the transformation: plantings and greenery, string lights, places to sit and gather,” the chancellor said.
Other investments at its Volker Campus included a $4 million in renovations to the UMKC Conservatory with an upgrade of the Grant Recital Hall and improved student practice rooms.
“This fall, Dean Courtney Crappell will reveal plans for further phased renovations and expansion of the Conservatory to meet future needs,” according to a release.
Work also will begin this fall to house student-success programs in the Miller Nichols Library and Atterbury Student Success Center.
At its Health Sciences campus on Hospital Hill, UMKC released a rendering of its planned Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Center at the northeast corner of 25th and Charlotte on Hospital Hill. It’s expected to open in Fall 2026.
UMKC has raised $95 million toward its $120 million cost including $40 million from the state, $10 million from the federal government, $15 million from the Hall Family Foundation and $30 million from the Sunderland Foundation.
Agrawal also said UMKC will soon break ground on a new School of Medicine building in St. Joseph, funded through federal and state dollars. It will house the UMKC program for rural healthcare already operating there. It’s scheduled to open Fall 2025.
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