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'Can't get them back once they're gone': Buck O'Neil bridge plan removes some River Market buildings

Buck O'Neil Bridge building removal
Posted at 5:16 PM, Mar 18, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several buildings in the western corner of River Market will be demolished to make way for the new Buck O'Neil Bridge.

Construction is set to start fall 2021 and finish by the end of 2024.

Buck O'Neil Bridge building removal
This is a map of the buildings MoDOT will acquire to tear down to make way for the new Buck O'Neil Bridge.

The addresses set for demolition include:

  • 510 W 5th St.
  • 511 W 4th St.
  • 500 W 5th St.
  • 410 W 5th St.
  • 318 Broadway Blvd.
  • 300 Broadway Blvd.
  • 206 Broadway Blvd.

Some of the buildings are occupied with companies right now, like Lever1, Cogent, and Escape Room Kansas City.

MoDOT is in the process of buying all the properties and the companies will have to move out by summertime.

Lever1 is a human relations firm that has been on 5th Street for nine years. Over the past year, they've been preparing to relocate to another office space in the River Market ever since MoDOT notified them.

"It's a great building we're in, it has a lot of history but we understand the need to make improvements, especially at the intersection where many of our employees and clients utilize to get to our building," said Erica Brune, president of Lever1. "It's pretty dangerous, so it really didn't come as a surprise."

Brune said she thinks the new bridge will improve safety and enhance the area overall. She's witnessed several crashes in the intersection at 5th & Broadway, leading on and off the bridge, or U.S. 169.

RELATED |Buck O’Neil Bridge project critical factor in Kansas City, regional growth

Cogent is a pumping equipment distribution company that is preparing to move to a new location in Riverside.

The company has been headquartered in River Market for more than 60 years.

Tim Howard, CEO, said they are supportive of the project, even if it means losing two buildings and moving more than 100 employees elsewhere.

"It's needed," Howard said. "I think the bridge, the design to get on just wasn't very good. We've seen the bridge needing repair for quite a while now. I think the fact they're doing that is a good thing."

Landmark Lofts and the building housing the Barberette are staying and will be the only buildings on the strip.

MoDOT's bridge project leader, Mary Miller, said none of the buildings are on the register of historic places.

But people like Matt Staub, urbanist and vice president of the River Market Community Association, worry about losing the feel of the neighborhood, like the old brick streets and unique building fronts.

"It defines a place in a way that when you take that out and it's empty space, you lose more than just the buildings itself, you lose all those other intangible things that make it unique and more fun to live in," Staub said.

Staub said removing buildings damages the connectivity of the neighborhood.

"We can't get them back to reconsider how we might want to use them once they're gone," Staub said.

The removal of the buildings will leave a considerable amount of green space underneath and between the flyover ramps, which is another component that residents say if done wrong will be a disservice to the neighborhood.

"It may be the best we can do, other than nicer fencing, is in that green area where there's an opportunity," said Ed Ford, chair of the Northland Regional Chamber of Commeerce. "I'd love to see a Buck O'Neil statue."

Miller said the design of the bridge is final but MoDOT said they'll be looking for public input about aesthetics.