March 1, 2017
Remember when you were a kid and the neighborhood bully kicked sand in your face, then told you to take your ball and go home, little boy; I won you lost? That’s the scene that played out last Thursday at the full City Council meeting when KCU’s Master Planned Development district passed the full Council on a 10-2 vote. That vote by the Council basically kicked sand in the face of the Historic Northeast preservationists and set a very dangerous development precedent that could spell trouble for historic neighborhoods across the city that are fighting the same battle HNE fought and valiantly lost.
That’s right, Rockhill Homes Association, don’t think the high dollar legal eagles representing the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and their expansion plans aren’t taking notes here. UMKC’s surrounding neighborhoods (Crestwood and Rockhill Crest, 49/63 Coalition)? You betchya! They’re watching this too. Know this: the city of Kansas City’s Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development committee, along with the 10 Yes votes on the full Council last Thursday, just gave developers all the green lights they need to develop at will and raze history in the process.
Probably the most hurtful thing to come out of Thursday’s Council massacre was the plan offered up by 3rd District Councilman Quinton Lucas, when he suggested that the materials from the decimated historic colonnaded structures be donated to a local non-profit for adaptive re-use. How magnanimous of the honorable Councilman. This basically equates to the bully in that fight telling the 90-pound weakling to take their bricks and go home. We won, you lost, tough luck. Better luck next time.
Here’s a question for Councilman Lucas and all the yes votes that sent the wrecking ball to these buildings, while allowing developers to run roughshod unchecked over historic neighborhoods all over the city. When is next time the last time? Is it when we run out of inconvenient historic buildings? We seem to be on the fast track for that, thanks to those 10 Yes votes last week. Designated historic districts be damned, as they don’t seem to matter a whit! Base zoning districts don’t seem to matter. City/citizen developed neighborhood plans don’t seem to matter. Special overlay districts don’t seem to matter. Special Review Districts don’t seem to matter. The Independence Avenue Corridor Plan sure didn’t matter. So what matters and when? When is next time the last time? It’s a question that deserves an answer.
In the meantime, local preservationists had better just be happy having their heads patted and sent packing with the bricks from what’s left of the history along Maple Boulevard.