Drury Hotels proposes demolition of former Board of Education public library building

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Drury Hotels is interested in building a new hotel where the former Board of Education public library has sat vacant in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, for two years.

Drury Hotels plans to bulldoze the 9-story building and replace it with a 10-story Drury Plaza Hotel with 242 rooms, 5,000 square feet of meeting room space and a parking garage.

The building is currently on the National Register of Historic Places, which is why some preservationists urge the hotel chain to not knock it down.

“It would be a poor use of public money to subsidize the demolition,” said UMKC Associate Professor of Planning and Design Jacob Wagner.

The building is nestled between the Power and Light District, Sprint Center and the government buildings. Wagner said that’s prime real estate.

“If there is going to be a, you know, demolition and a new building we should expect a new structure that is iconic unique and fitting to the context of downtown. It is a transition site between the office buildings around Jackson County courts to City Hall and to the west the entertainment district.”

With the loss of money in the historic tax credit program in Missouri, some fear more companies will by-pass renovating old buildings.

“Financing is king sometimes when you are trying to do these kinds of projects and it might not make it as feasible to keep the building long-term,” said Kansas City Historic Preservation Officer Bradley Wold.

“It's an iconic building with a unique architectural history that you are just not going to get a building like that ever again and so I think it's a real short-sighted decision to demolish this particular building,” Wagner said.

Drury Hotels wants to use tax increment financing (TIF), but the committee overseeing TIF projects in the city has not put it on the agenda to vote on in the next meeting.  

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