Most endangered properties of 2014 include two in Midtown


Two sets of vacant historic buildings in Midtown have made the Historic Kansas City Foundation’s 2014 list of most endangered buildings.

The Knickerbocker Apartments, owned by Kansas City Life Insurance, once again makes the most endangered list this year. When Leon Grant Middaugh designed them in 1906, there were two sets of apartments on either side of Knickerbocker Place in the Valentine neighborhood. The Knickerbocker is on the National Register of Historic Places, but one set of apartments already has been demolished. These apartments were once among the most exclusive in Kansas City.

Four historic apartments in Old Hyde Park that have been the subject of recent controversy are also on this year’s list. The buildings at 100-118 West Armour belong to the Sillman Group and Mac Properties, developers that have restored many buildings on Armour Boulevard. The owners want to tear down the buildings, claiming they can’t find a cost-effective way to return them to use, but the request for demolition has been denied by two city boards. They must now wait three years before they can tear the buildings down. Preservationists and neighbors hope another developer will find a way to restore them.  They were built in 1902 and 1903 by Kansas City Architect John McKnecknie.

Other properties on the 2014 most endangered list include:

  • Sauer Castle, 935 Shawnee Road, Kansas City, Kansas: Completed in 1872 and considered to be one of the most architecturally and historically significant properties in Kansas City, Kansas,  the house is vacant and the Kansas Landmarks Commission has been trying to get the owners to bring it up to code.
  • King Louis West Lanes, 8788 Metcalf, Overland Park, Kansas: The bowling alley made a bold architectural and social statement when it opened in 1959, according to the Historic Kansas City Foundation. The bowling facility and ice rink closed in 2009. Two years later, Johnson County bought it with plans to create a National Museum of Suburbia, an idea since abandoned. Its future is in limbo, with the country considering selling the site for redevelopment.
  • Western Bible College, 2119 Tracy, Kansas City: This building has been on the Kansas City Register of Historic Places since 1988, in part because of its significance as the first and only Christian institution west of the Mississippi founded by African Americans.
  • Kemper Arena, 1800 Genesee, Kansas City: The future of the Kemper is uncertain as the American Royal wants to tear it down and build a smaller agricultural and multipurpose building on the site. The Foutch Brothers, a Kansas City development firm, has a plan for its reuse as a regional youth sports facility.
  • Thatcher School, 5008 Independence Ave., Kansas City: This historic school in the Indian Mound neighborhood is eligible for listing on the National Register. The Kansas City School District asked for proposals for reuse, but after getting no visible offers, considered tearing it down. Neighbors asked for a reprieve and are seeking ideas for reuse and a developer.
  • Midwest Hotel, 20th and Main, Kansas City: This building is part of a historic Working Class and Mid-Priced Hotel District with the Reiger and Hotel Monroe, but there are concerns that deterioration may make its redevelopment a challenge.
  • St. John the Divine, Kansas City, Kansas: This 1887 Gothic Revival Church is one of only a few National Register sites associated with Hispanic heritage, but it has been threatened with demolition. The St. John the Divine Community Art and Education Center is working on saving the building.
  • Downs Building, 18th and Prospect, Kansas City: This building with its Casa Loma Ballroom was once a center of African American social life and music. It is currently vacant and suffering from demolition by neglect according to the historical society. 

See the full press release

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