Westport, Kansas’s City historic birthplace, is in danger
Dear friends of Westport:
Most people who live or visit Kansas City know Westport as a unique historic area – but Westport is in danger of rapid change. Several developers have proposed large projects that threaten to overwhelm historic Westport with their scale. Please join us in the urgent push to raise $15,000 by April 1 for a historic survey to preserve Westport.
There is growing concern about the pace and scale of redevelopment projects that the group says could change the face of historic Westport.
Westport is perhaps the most important historic district of Kansas City, yet most of its historic buildings have no protection from demolition. If we don’t act quickly, the Westport that we know today and that many people have loved for decades could be gone very quickly
We hope you will join us in an effort to slow down current and future development proposals until we complete a historic survey of Westport.
Bookmark this page to get updates and keep in touch about this ongoing effort.
April 19, 2017
For your calendar
- April 25, 6:30 p.m. Westport Library Neighborhood meeting to discuss position on OPUS
- May 2 hearing before city plan commission on rezoning and site plan
As you may know, OPUS agreed to table its proposal to the city plan commission for its project at Westport Road and Broadway this week in order to get more input from neighborhoods. The next hearing date before the plan commission is May 2. We do not have a time yet, but it will be important for neighborhoods and neighbors who feel strongly about this project to be at this hearing.
We are continuing to meet with council members and explain the project and the larger concern about the future of Westport to them.
Finally, we would like to invite interested neighborhood residents to a meeting on Tuesday, April 25 at the Westport Library, 118 Westport Road, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. We will have a facilitated discussion of the issues around the project and the future of Westport. The goal of this meeting is to develop a unified position, across neighborhoods, about the Opus Project so that when we testify at the plan commission hearing on May 2, we are fairly representing the positions of the neighborhoods.
Update April 14, 2017
The OPUS development, which would raze the bank building at Westport Road and Broadway and replace it with a six-story, 256-unit apartment and mixed use building, goes before the City Plan Commission on April 18. Several neighborhoods have requested that the city continue the proposal rather than hearing it on that date. That comes after residents of Valentine, Coleman Highlands, Roanoke, Volker, Old Hyde Park, West Plaza and South Hyde Park met with the developer on April 13 to hear about the proposal. After that meeting, about 95% of those who had heard the proposal voted that they thought the project was too big. Residents also raised concerns about parking, infrastructure, and the scale of the project in relation to other Westport buildings.
We will provide an update here when the Plan Commission schedule is available. If the proposal is not continued, those who wish to testify can check here for details on when and where to be on Tuesday.
UPDATE: April 15
OPUS has agreed to postpone the hearing in front of the City Plan Commission until May 2, based upon a request from neighborhoods for more time to have input.
Several large projects on the table
On March 6, the Kansas City Business Journal reported the Minnesota-based Opus Group has submitted plans for a mixed-used project including 256 apartments, 8,500 square feet of commercial space and a 275-space parking garage.” The proposed development would replace the Bank of America Building at the southwest corner of Westport Road and Broadway.
The building dates back as far as 1876. The Westport Avenue Bank, then the oldest suburban bank in Kansas City, purchased the property and remodeled it in 1920.
Meanwhile, the building at the southwest corner of Westport and Broadway was recently replaced with a new restaurant and bar operated by the national HopCat chain. Another developer is currently revising plans which originally called for a pair of 14-story mixed use towner above Manor Square. A Wichita developer last year presented plans for replacing the former XO nightclub at 40th and Central with a four-story Town Place Suites by Marriott extended stay hotel.
Survey: A Tool for Evaluating and Responding to Development Proposals
We are asking for assistance from the community to immediately conduct a professional survey of Westport’s current properties. This survey will assess the historic and cultural importance of Old Westport and help us to make important decisions about what should be preserved in the future. The survey will provide a starting point for a community discussion about how to move forward in preserving Old Westport.
But we need to move quickly, before more projects hit the drawing board. We ask you to contribute what you can to help use raise the $25,000 we need to move forward with the survey. (Need more language about the importance of starting the survey right away and when it will be finished).
About Help Save Old Westport
The goal of Help Save Old Westport is to preserve, protect and promote the architectural character and historical significance of Old Westport’s buildings and landscape. The Help Save Old Westport working group is composed of Thomas Platt, Mary Jo Draper, Kim Kimbrough, Marty Jarvis Weiderman, Alana Smith, Bob Babcock and Louise Myers. Several members of Historic Kansas City are also meeting with the group.
- How important is preserving the history and character of Westport?
- Black, white families, church, businesses shared Westport block in early 1900s
- On Westport block, frontier history meets early 20th century streetscape
- Developer plans hotel on site of Westport’s notorious XO Club