Introducing the Uptown Arts District: Arts bazaar Saturday celebrates kickoff

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The area of Broadway Boulevard around the historic Uptown Theater has gotten a boost lately, with new businesses, restaurants and apartments opening.

Local businesses also think the area is beginning to take on a unique character of its own, and to showcase that, they’ve adopted a new name for the area – the Uptown Arts District. It includes the area along Broadway from Armour Boulevard to 39th Street.

Hamburger Mary's recently moved into the Uptown Theater space on Broadway, in what's now being called the Uptown Arts District.

Hamburger Mary’s recently moved into the Uptown Theater space on Broadway, in what’s now being called the Uptown Arts District.

To “launch” the new district, businesses are sponsoring an arts bazaar on Saturday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They say the event will be a preview of the type of activities people can expect to see in the Uptown Arts district in the future.

The bazaar is free to the public and includes artists, vendors and food trucks. Jim Murray, former graphic artist for the Kansas City Star, will join other artists showing off their works. Prairie vodka and craft beers will be available for purchase. And the Uptown Theater will host a “garage sale” of theater items and offer ticket giveaways.

“We see the Uptown Arts District as different than the Crossroads,” says Greg Patterson, owner of several buildings and the Uptown Arts Bar in the district. “We’ll be very focused on the performing arts. For example, we plan to pay buskers to perform at events.”

“We want to have things all summer long,” Larry Sells, owner of the Uptown Theater, said. “This will be great for the neighborhood.”

The Uptown Arts Bar offers a variety of events in the Uptown Arts District.

The Uptown Arts Bar offers a variety of events in the Uptown Arts District.

The way Patterson describes it, the Arts District is a place where a lot of arts events already come together. The Uptown Theater, the Uptown Arts Bar, the Broadway (formerly the Broadway Jazz Club), Hamburger Mary’s, Comedy City, the iPho Tower and other businesses hold regular events and want to work together to make the district even more lively.

The owners of Hamburger Mary’s will open Woody’s Classic Sports Pub at 3740 Broadway, the former site of Kenny’s Newsroom, in two weeks.

New apartments, new businesses and new beginnings all are coming to life on Broadway and more small businesses are on the way, they say.

Renovated apartments draw new residents

Among people the Uptown Arts District aims to attract are residents of about 1,500 renovated apartments along Armour Boulevard and those in 112 apartments that open this month in the renovated Ambassador, 3560 Broadway. Residents are expected to begin moving in next week and 20 percent of the units have been preleased.

The Ambassador is the last of three big apartment buildings there to get renovated in recent years.

The Valentine Apartments, formerly in poor repair, now shine.

Residents are about to move into the newly-renovated Ambassador Apartments in the Uptown Arts District.

Residents are about to move into the newly-renovated Ambassador Apartments in the Uptown Arts District.

The Chatham, listed on the national historic register, is now award-winning apartments for seniors. Before that the once grand building at 3701 Broadway had been abandoned for a decade and was infamous for squatters who shot heroin.

Peter Cassel, a director of the Silliman Group, redevelopers who did the Armour buildings and the Ambassador, said Midtown is ripe for more growth.

“It has easy access to everywhere,” he said, and people can walk, bike or use buses to get to work at nearby hospitals or other businesses, or drive onto a highway and soon be anywhere in the metropolitan area.

“Midtown remains an incredible value compared to the Plaza and downtown,” he said. “As the crossroads has gotten expensive, Kansas City has kind of been looking for where is the next new place.”


One Comment

  1. Holly Miller says:

    I had an exceptionally bad experience as an artist participating in the “Arts Bazaar.” When I signed up I specifically requested NOT being near the DJ/music or the bar and was assured that would happen.
    My space was located near what was supposed to be the main entrance and had wall space for my paintings, about fifteen feet from the big plate glass windows at the front of the building.
    However, by noonish, a multi-member DRUM BAND set up and began to play outside in front of that window. The sound was headache-inducing and deafening which prevented any friendly discussions with anyone who stopped by my exhibit. Making it worse were people who kept propping open the door which doubled the sound and also interfered with the air conditioning. There were three of us painters who had requested wall space and we were in a smaller room off the huge main space and there was no indication that we were there until another artist made a quick cardboard sign. The entrance near us was supposed to be the main entry but there was no indication or enforcement of such and most folks came in the other way. Several friends said they came in the other door to avoid the loudness, which was further amplified by the concrete alcove. When I complained to owner Sells, his response was terse sarcasm and no support. I was ready to pack up at that point but had told many friends to come, I decided to wait awhile. The drummers finally packed up but the attendance continued to be thin with “just looking.” Around 3:30 another band appeared and played loud enough to shake the glass window! at that point, I called my truck-friend and was out of there as fast as possible.

    For this venue to succeed, more professional organization/communication and better-defined audience needs to happen. It was not well-publicized even with a huge sign available on the property. The music, refreshment choices and bazaar atmosphere appear to target the young urban hipsters who generally don’t have any money to buy art or are “starving” artists themselves. My paintings are not “cheap.” but I also brought a selection of hand-made ceramics for $8-$25. One sweet kid admired a bowl but said he didn’t have $8! Otherwise, some families with kids came through to look around/kill time before coming or going from Costco or other Saturday errands. With low attendance, I don’t know how well anyone did on sales, I imagine a couple of the more “crafty” vendors ( tie-dye, costume jewelry, etc.) might have had some.

    At this point, I don’t feel this venue is “Ready for prime time” and needs to lose its amateur image. I was treated rudely and would not recommend any serious artist follow this parade at this time…

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