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Plans for KC riverfront mixed-use district raise questions about public transit in area

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Posted at 6:11 PM, Apr 23, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Current and Port KC’s collaboration to develop the riverfront area surrounding the new stadium has raised questions about public transit.

Parking has been a topic of contention surrounding CPKC Stadium since it opened, but that concern is only heightened for those curious about how they will park to visit the new mixed-use district.

KSHB 41 reporter Tod Palmer spoke with Jon Stephens, Port KC’s president and CEO, about the new development and people’s concerns about parking.

“Always the parking. Parking will be integrated into each building. We have an agreement that all of this temporary parking will be replaced one-for-one as new buildings come along," Stephens said. "So yes, you know, we want to encourage people.

"The first match we had an estimated 4,000 people walk and bike to CPKC Stadium. We want to continue that. We want people to ride the streetcar down here. But of course, people are going to drive. People will drive, and we will have parking for them — on-street and off-street.”

Because of the proposed housing developments, as well as the current residential properties nearby, like Union Berkley Apartments, walking will be the main form of transportation for a number of individuals.

However, Kansas City is not categorized as a walkable city as a whole. Still, the proposed development marks the potential for a walkable community in a city known for car transit.

Port KC also mentioned in a news release the streetcar should conclude its extension around the same time as the district development, which will add to the transit available for people traveling to the district.

The expansion is currently in progress to extend the streetcar from the riverfront to UMKC at 51st and Brookside.

“It’s been a lot of good work for Kansas Citians," said Josh Slominski, a Black & McDonald construction worker who has been working on the streetcar since it first came to KC.

Slominski said he’s aware parking is a concern, but he’s hopeful the streetcar could be a partial solution.

“Parking is always an issue, and again, the railcar, that’ll help ease the pain of the parking, hopefully,” he said.

Slominski and his co-workers stopped for lunch at Moretina’s Caddy Shack Tuesday afternoon, a place they frequent when they’re in the area of 3rd and Holmes.

The owner, Joe Moretina, said regulars like Slominski are just as common as newcomers.

“Well, it used to be just all blue-collar workers, and we’d just draw from the local businesses. But even as North Kansas City’s grown and even Power and Light, that’s helped us out tremendously,” Moretina said.

Moretina took over the 32-year-old business after his father passed away in 2021.

“The area's grown a lot the last several years,” Moretina said. “They built it up a lot down here at the market and the riverfront. With the stadium, that's been a great addition.”

Slominski seconded that notion. He’s been coming to the River Market and riverfront areas for decades.

“We’ve actually canoed the Missouri River, so we got to watch it from the river, and we got to drive by," Slominski said. "It was amazing how fast they put the new stadium up, the apartments and all that. It’s tremendous growth.”

Alissa Abrams recently moved into a riverfront apartment after moving to the area from Milwaukee.

“I actually moved into Union because of the development, and I was like, ‘Oh, that would be a really cool option; I could see the potential,’" Abrams said.

As someone who lives within walking distance of where the new district will be, she said the neighborhood could use more public transit.

“Having the streetcar come up right at the riverfront that can take you into downtown — you know, KC Live, nightlife stuff — I thought was really exciting ‘cause I tend to use Uber or I drive my own personal car, which just would be nice to have other options,” she said.

There’s also the option to travel on foot, something Abrams knows well.

“That's what I was kind of a little bit disappointed about when I first moved in here. I thought that it would be a quick walk over to the River Market,” Abrams said. “[There’s] lots of different steps, which I didn’t know when I first moved in. I thought it was a lot more walkable, so I’m excited for the streetcar.”

The finished first phase is targeted to be completed before the 2026 FIFA World Cup.