(Editor’s note: CityScene is taking some time off for a vacation, this article originally appeared on June 30.)
By Kevin Collison
A new UMKC master plan that calls for developing housing for 500 students along with retail space at the terminus of the planned streetcar route has been approved by the University of Missouri Board of Curators.
The proposed development is part of a larger UMKC Master Plan 2021 for the Volker and Health Sciences (Hospital Hill) campuses. The 3.5-mile streetcar extension on Main from downtown to UMKC is expected to begin operations in early 2025.
“We’ve said numerous times we see this as a wonderful opportunity and look forward to working with the Streetcar Authority and the city to maximize the potential it presents,” said John Martellaro, spokesman for the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The proposed streetcar-related development however, is in its very preliminary stages.
“There is no funding or RFP (request for proposals),” Martellaro said.
“This is based on conversations with neighbors and people on campus about what they’d like to see and our concept of what our future could look like.”
The proposed streetcar-related 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.
After numerous construction-related lawsuits, UMKC demolished the $40.8 million Oak Place development last summer.
Work is well underway on the $350 million extension of the streetcar from its current terminus at Union Station to UMKC via Main Street.
The federal government announced a $174 million grant last winter. The Transportation Development District generating the local match will begin collecting a one-cent sales tax Thursday and a special property tax assessment this fall.
Separately, the Streetcar Authority expects to begin construction next year on a one-half mile extension of the streetcar route from the River Market to Berkley Riverfront Park.
By 2025, a streetcar line extending 6.2 miles from UMKC to the riverfront is expected to be operational.
Martellaro said there is no specific time when UMKC would begin implementing its proposed streetcar-related development.
“At some point, we may begin initial steps or someone may come to us,” he said.
There already has been a major investment near the planned terminus of the streetcar. VanTrust Real Estate opened Brookside 51, a 170-unit apartment project and Whole Foods grocery store, at 51st and Oak in 2018.
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I always thought the Streetcar extension presented an opportunity for the UM System to compete with KCAI, but the stop on 51st St is at the bottom of a hill. That’s a problem if you wanna get to any of the exhibitions or events hosted at UMKC Gallery. The Department of Art & Art History building itself is in a rather peculiar place to be sure, and UMKC’s long-term vision for the Volker Campus shows they intend on demolishing and replacing it with an addition to the Atterbury Student Success Center. Where would the department go? Further away from the terminus and closer to Troost, maybe? That’d be pretty disappointing.
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