Port KC has given the public its first look into plans for a redevelopment of the Berkley Riverfront. The undertaking is one of the largest economic growth initiatives happening in Kansas City right now, according to Port KC.
When finished, the 80-acre area will include office, residential and retail space. A project on the riverfront called the Union will hold 410 luxury apartments, as well as 12,000 square feet of retail space. That project is expected to be finished in 2018.
According to a release, when finished the area will provide amenities like walking and cycling trails, fitness classes, volleyball leagues and host events like KC Riverfest, Kansas City PrideFest, Riverfront Fitness and KC Nanobrew Festival.
Seventeen acres of greenspace on the riverside are also part of the plan. Two acres of that space will be an off-leash dog park, bar and restaurant called Bar K. It will be supervised by a trained staff and have an area for big and small dogs.
The release also says they're looking into how they might connect the streetcar line with a new route down to the Berkley Riverfront.
The plans were met with support on Wednesday during a kickoff event at Berkley Riverfront Park.
"It couldn't be a better spot for a run, a picnic, or riding your bike," explained Megan Nelson, who often exercises along the river. "This is kind of my favorite spot. It has great scenery. There are a lot of people around so I feel safe, too."
Nelson has lived in the area for a few years and told 41 Action News that she has seen many changes along the river route.
"I used to not see anyone along here and now I see people enjoying it, saying 'hi,'" she explained. "Every weekend the City Market is packed. There are people all over the place. There are buildings going up. It's really fun to see."
The development plans call for even more change to the area.
While the project was celebrated on Wednesday, Friends of the River KC President Stefan White said the development took some time.
"It had to do with the fact there was a lot of cleanup that had to be done down here and there is a lot of leveling the ground," he explained.
Despite challenges along the way, White told 41 Action News the riverfront area brings a special opportunity to the city.
"We're on the cusp of something incredible," he said. "I think right now it offers a great green space for Kansas City. I think ten years from now, it's the place to be in Kansas City. I think this is the next logical place to be developed in Kansas City and I think this is where retail is going to come."
With more people moving downtown and possible Street Car expansion in the years ahead, White said now is the best time to develop the riverfront area.
"It makes sense to develop this now," he explained. "I think if they developed this 20 years ago, it wouldn't look anything like this."
Planners expect the Union luxury apartment complex to be completed by summer of next year.
Expansion of the Street Car is not officially happening yet, but organizers said they expected to conduct a feasibility study in a few weeks about a stop at Berkley Riverfront.