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Kansas City’s plan to put a park over the South Loop, I-670

Picture of South Loop from Loews Hotel

“The trench” as seen from the Loews Hotel patio. | Photo by KCtoday

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Imagine building a park overtop the South Loopyou know, that stretch of I-670 downtown. Well, that’s exactly what Kansas City plans to do, and now leaders have the funding to start.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, alongside Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II + Sen. Roy Blunt, announced the project in a news conference on Fri., April 22 at the Loews Kansas City Hotel. We also talked with City Manager Brian Platt so here’s what we know.

The plan

Rendering of South Loop deck park

City Manager Brian Platt next to what the South Loop could look like. | Photo by KCtoday

The park deck will span four city blocks — from Wyandotte Street to Grand Boulevard. Each section will be a separate phase (think: individual construction projects), starting with Wyandotte to Baltimore.

First comes the design phase, where workers study the area, figure out the materials, and put together a plan for builders. That will take 12-18 months, costing $2-3 million. The Downtown Council is already working with a designer.

Then comes the construction — priced at ~$160 million. Brian said the city has “pathways forward” to fund the first couple sections, and he plans on more commitments as the project moves forward.

Reimagining highways

Picture of Lucas, Blunt, and Cleaver

Sen. Roy Blunt, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, and Mayor Quinton Lucas. | Photo by KCtoday

Some call the South Loop “the trench.” Sen. Blunt said that it was even dubbed “The Kansas City Cut” when it was built. Despite creating a pathway for cars, leaders agree the project cut off pathways between the Crossroads + Power & Light. They’re hoping to rebuild this link.

While the South Loop has been a focal point, other plans have developed elsewhere. Groups call for reframing the North Loop, changing 71 Highway, and bringing Route 9 down to street level.

The impact

If we build it, will they come? Brian told us that the South Loop deck project will serve to reunite “siloed neighborhoods.” He also mentioned these additional reasons:

  • To reduce the environmental impacts of a highway
  • To build on the development success downtown
  • To provide a foundation + framework for other parts of the city

The funding

This project is considered a public-private partnership, meaning the funding is coming from a lot of different places.

We’ve got pathways forward to fund the first couple of sections already,” Brian said.

For public funds, he said there are “strong commitments” from the State of Missouri. He also said Sen. Blunt is taking the lead on several federal funding pathways.

Blunt said the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (which both he and Rep. Cleaver voted for) includes a special section for “reconnecting communities.”

As far as private funding goes, Brian also said Loews Hotel has already committed to $5 million. He also mentioned good conversations with Cordish Co (who owns KC Live! + the Light apartments) and the owners of 1400 Baltimore as well.

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