What was once the shining gem in the newly developed Executive Park area of Kansas City’s East Bottoms will become a pile of rubble this Sunday when demolition contractors implode the old Park Place Hotel at 1601 Universal Avenue.
Originally christened The Breckenridge Inn upon its initial completion in September of 1975, it was luxury lodging at its finest. According to an article in The Kansas City Star, roughly 850 tuxedo and evening dress wearing dignitaries dined on Beef Wellington and danced to the music of the Mills Brothers at the gala opening. Hotel owner David Breckenridge ferried 80 guests via chartered airplane from St. Louis to help in christening the hotel.
Business was brisk between business clientele and vacationing families who stayed there due to its proximity to the newly completed Worlds of Fun theme park roughly three miles to the north. In 1978 a second 8-story tower was added making it the 11th largest hotel in the metro with 328 guest rooms. This promotional postcard published in 1978 lists dozens of amenities including a private health club, tennis courts, banquet facilities, an upscale restaurant and lounge area and a unique, indoor-outdoor swimming pool. In 1980 management and ownership of the Breckenridge was transferred to Universal Properties and re-named The Inn at Executive Park.
The hotel maintained its standing among the nicer hotels in the area through the late 1990s, but a series of ownership and name changes ultimately spelled doom for the once-upscale facility and it ultimately closed in 2015, becoming a magnet for criminal activity. Adding insult to injury, the hotel owners of the hotel skipped town, leaving the staff to fend for themselves with bounced paychecks. The staff actually walked out with paying guests in the house.
In November 2016, a transient fell into an elevator shaft and was killed. A series of fires over the last few years ultimately sealed the hotel’s fate. This coming Sunday at 8 a.m., Chuck Cacioppo and his crew at Industrial Wrecking and Salvage and Wrecking, along with Controlled Demolition Incorporated, will implode what’s left of the structure – closing a storied chapter in Executive Park’s history.