Council committee votes down measure to save historic Plaza apartments

nelle peters on plazaThree historic buildings on the Country Club Plaza could soon be demolished.

The city council plans and zoning committee today voted against historic status for the three buildings attributed to architect Nelle Peters.

The vote comes after the Historic Preservation Commission and the City Plan Commission voted to recommend adding the buildings the city Nelle Peters Thematic Historic District.

That could have prevented demolition for three years if the city council approves it.

But a motion to do that today by Councilwoman Katheryn Shields died for lack of a second in the plans and zoning committee.

Councilwoman Heather Hall moved for denial and councilmen Scott Taylor, Quinton Lucas and Lee Barnes voted with her.

That would seem to be the end of an effort by the Historic Kansas City Foundation to save the buildings that Price Brothers Development has filed to demolish.

The measure for historic designation still goes to the full council later this month but will need nine of 13 votes to pass, and today four council members voted against it.

A key factor in the committee vote was that the developer paid $3.6 million for the buildings when they did not have historic designation.

That made it unfeasible to renovate the buildings at 4228,4730 and 4734 Summit, the developers argued.

Hall and Barnes questioned the fairness of making the developers lose money.

“If someone has invested their money and there’s not a way for them to get their money back…,” Barnes said.

He also said he wondered why the buildings were not given historic designation years ago.

Jim Bowers, attorney for the developers, said the request for the designation now was improper and amounted to unconstitutional taking of property.

Doug Price said he bought the buildings intending to tear them down for a large project that is still taking shape.

“I just told my staff to tear it down and I didn’t think anything of it,” he said. “It was a boarding house when it was built ….,” he said of the cluster of three buildings.

Advocates argued for saving what were among few remnants of working class housing in the Plaza area and to save the work of Peters.

Bowers said that many of her other works are already preserved, including those in her existing historic district and the Ambassador Hotel in Midtown.



  1. L. McGinnis says:

    What a shame. The Plaza is quickly loosing its integrity as one of the most beautiful shopping areas in the United States. The structures that have been replacing the history and beauty of the Plaza in the past 15 years are cold and ugly.
    You members of the city council should be ashamed of yourselves. Your not taking care of Kansas City.

  2. jellygator says:

    As a real estate agent, I am skeptical about some of this. When they purchased, they had a right to investigate whatever they wanted to know – including whether they could get approval to tear down the buildings. So what I see here is they not only didn’t complete their due diligence well enough to prevent problems, now they’re making statements that are misleading. The article says,

    “A key factor in the committee vote was that the developer paid $3.6 million for the buildings when they did not have historic designation.

    That made it unfeasible to renovate the buildings at 4228,4730 and 4734 Summit, the developers argued.”

    But they have money for a demolition, debris removal, and new construction on the site? This means it IS feasible, but they wouldn’t make money, a factor that they should have considered before they purchased for such big plans.

  3. jellygator says:

    P.S. There is nothing saying that governments should take action to make sure private parties make more money than they otherwise would….

  4. cdawley says:

    What does it matter if the developers lose money. Preserving KC history is more important than money!

  5. MarcT says:

    I ,for one, am tired of all these Johnny come lately’s crying that these buildings should be saved. Historic KC had the opportunity to designate these as ” historic” .They had no historic designation when purchased for the going market price. Suddenly, groups or individuals ( who always know how to spend your money better than you do ) come out of the woodwork. Sure, I would have loved see these made into modern condo’s, but when you try and change the rules retroactively, that’s not fair ( unless you’re in a socialist society ). Historic KC ( or any other group/individual ) had the same opportunity to buy these buildings when they were for sale.Where were they then ? The naysayers on the vote have what my mother used to say – “Champagne taste with beer pockets” .

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