Columbus Park. “The North End.” “Little Italy.” This historic neighborhood in downtown Kansas City — east of the River Market — is home to a few local staples (pizza at Moretina’s Caddy Shack, cannelloni at Garozzo’s, brunch at Happy Gillis, cookies at Swoon), but it’s still quiet enough to stand in the middle of the road for a 30-second panorama photo (we would know).
However, a slow drip of development and business is moving into the district — and we think the neighborhood is about to boom. Here’s what’s coming + what the community is talking about.
Café Ca Phê, 916 E. 5th St. | The Vietnamese coffee shop doesn’t have an opening date yet, but it’s less than $5,000 away from its GoFundMe goal. Owners have their permits, and the most recent update says “crunch time” construction is underway. Here’s our Q+A with owner Jackie Nguyen.
Tasty Unicorn, 913 E. 5th St. | The food truck ice cream shop hoped to open last November, but owners were fighting supply chain issues and one of the trailers was destroyed in a fire. Check Facebook for pop-up updates. The only other ice cream shop nearby is Betty Rae’s.
Hibiscus, 910 E. 5th St. | Owners hoped to open this past April. Northeast News reported they had a liquor license and had made progress on renovating the inside — however, the exterior remains unchanged from the previous concept, The North End.
“Building 4,” 401 Charlotte St. | Work continues (we could hear sawing coming from within) on a new project next to the finished CP Lofts. The land is labeled as the same platt as its neighbors across the street, which indicates it’s part of the larger redevelopment project aiming for 360 units + 20,000 sqft of commercial space across 20 acres.
Troost townhomes, 1015 Pacific St. | OK so that’s not an official name, but developers won tax incentives to build 20 units (10 for-sale townhomes, 10 rentable apartments) on the east side of Columbus Park. Construction could begin this fall.
KC Streetcar Northrail Extension | A recent public meeting revealed possible routes for a North Kansas City streetcar line. One of the options includes a boarding station on the Columbus Park side of Highway 9.
The Greenline | A proposed 10-mile path around downtown KC could connect Berkley Riverfront and Kessler Park through the northeast side of Columbus Park. The project is still in the partnering, planning, and design phase.
Not everyone is excited about new developments, especially when they threaten the current community fabric. The Harrison Street DIY is a locally beloved skatepark born of community time, energy, and money.
The land around it (the boundaries appear to go around the park) is owned by the Housing Authority of Kansas City, a local agency providing public housing for low-income renters. A recent for-sale sign + a possible request for development indicates the area could turn into more housing.
Mission Taco Joint, who’s owners grew up skating, just launched its Giveback Taco Collaboration. A portion of every “Frontside Grind” taco sale will go toward Harrison Street DIY with the goal of helping the skatepark remain in place or rebuild in a new location.
A resident’s point of view
Dan Wayne is a resident of Columbus Park and the owner of Soda Lofts (next to the new Cafe Ca Phe) since 2002. He moved to the area hoping for new housing. Instead, a skatepark popped up.
“There’s been a lot of lawyers involved, and there will probably be a lot more,” Dan said.
He told us that the land around the skatepark has been ~25 years of complicated policies + mismanagement. Affordable housing called Guinotte Manor came in two phases east of the Garrison Community Center, but the third phase never happened. However, he’s happy the skatepark is there, saying it’s good for the community.
“I love the neighborhood… it’s really diverse,” Dan said. “It’s quiet. It’s nice. It’s kind of a secret in a way.”
Get involved by signing up for the Columbus Park newsletter or attending a community meeting — every third Wednesday of the month.