Help Save Westport

Westport Road and Broadway in 1915. Courtesy Kansas City Public Library Missouri Valley Special Collections.

Westport Road and Broadway in 1915. Courtesy Kansas City Public Library Missouri Valley Special Collections.

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. With your help, we have raised $25,000 for a historic survey of Westport, which is now underway. It will be the starting point for a community conversation about how all stakeholders would like to see Westport change for the better.

There is growing concern about the pace and scale of redevelopment projects that  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.

GoFundMe campaign 

Bookmark this page to get updates and keep in touch about this ongoing effort.

 Update Aug. 15

The City Council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development committee will NOT take up the Westport moratorium tomorrow. Today, the City Plan Commission discussed the moratorium and expressed some concerns about whether a moratorium was the best tool to allow the complexities of Westport’s future to be discussed.

At this point, the moratorium proposal has been tabled until Oct. 3. The street vacation proposal has also been tabled.

We will keep you posted if/when the proposal is scheduled for additional debate.

Update June 16

        Update June 8, 2017

By a vote of 3-1, the City Council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee gave the Opus project the green light to go ahead at the corner of Westport Road and Broadway, signaling they may support other large-scale developments in Westport.

Here’s the recap from the Star.

We presented testimony that the developer had not proven the need for a zoning change at this corner. We also presented letters from seven Midtown neighborhoods opposed to the development and/or the lack of meaningful input into the process.

Councilwoman Katheryn Shields voted no and attempted to persuade other committee members to ask the developer to work with the community on a compromise. But the other committee members, Scott Taylor, Lee Barnes and Quinton Lucas, rejected that approach and voted for the project.

The project goes to the full council next Thursday.

Update June 1, 2017

Help Save Westport, a grassroots group of neighborhoods, historic preservations and business owners, is asking for help in letting the city know that many people oppose the Opus project. A City Council committee will hear the proposal on June 7.

 We have talked to many people who oppose Opus because of its mass and scale, because of concerns about parking, traffic and infrastructure, and because of its potential negative impact on the Westport area’s historic ambience. If you have these concerns and would like to express your opinion, there are several ways.

  1. Call or email members of the city council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee, which will hear the proposal on June 7, to express your concerns.
  1. Attend/encourage neighbors to attend the June 7 committee hearing

We are hoping that as many people as possible will attend the hearing on June 7 at 1:30 p.m. on the 26th floor of City Hall. We will have signs for people and may ask people to stand up to show how many have come because of their interest in the project. It is important to have a lot of people in the room, even if most of them do not testify.

Update May 17, 2017

Thanks to all the concerned folks who sat through eight hours of hearings at the City Plan Commission yesterday to testify or add support in opposition to the Opus project. Unfortunately, the commission recommended approval of the zoning change and by a vote of 3-2, voted to recommend the plan for the site. The fight isn’t over, however. The matter goes next to a city council committee which can choose not to take the advice of the plan commission. Check this page for updates on when that might happen and what you can do to get involved.

Update May 15, 2017

The proposal by Opus Development for a six-story, 254-unit residential building at Broadway and Westport Road comes before the City Plan Commission on Tuesday, May 16 sometime after 9 a.m. Westport business owners, historic preservationists and individuals will testify against the Opus project based on scale and density, potential impact on parking and infrastructure, and possible impact on the historic integrity on Westport.

Help Save Westport encourages neighborhood residents to attend the hearing.  Just being at the hearing will show support.

Plan Commission Hearing details

  • Where: In the Council Chamber on the 26th Floor of City Hall, 414 E. 12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri
  • When: 9 a.m. The City Plan Commission will generally take a short recess for approx. 10 minutes at and 10:30 a.m. and generally between 11:30 a.m. and noon for approx. 45 minutes for lunch. We think the Opus proposal will come after lunch but cannot be certain things will not move faster.
  • Members: Babette Macy, chair; Rev. Stan Archie, vice chair; Coby Crowl; Matthew Dameron;  Bobbi Baker-Hughes;  Trish Martin; Diane Burnette; Margaret May.

Update April 28, 2017

Opus has requested that its presentation to the City Plan Commission be postponed again, this time until May 16. We will send more details as they become available, but you do not need to attend the plan commission hearing on May 2.

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

A rendering of the proposed redevelopment of Westport Road and Broadway, including a six-story apartment and commercial building. Note the change in scale between the new building and the traditional two-story Westport building on the bottom right hand side of the picture.

A rendering of the proposed redevelopment of Westport Road and Broadway, including a six-story apartment and commercial building. Note the change in scale between the new building and the traditional two-story Westport building on the bottom right hand side of the picture.

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.

GoFundMe Campaign

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