Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Discuss items in the urban core outside of Downtown as described above. Everything in the core including the east side (18th & Vine area), Northeast, Plaza, Westport, Brookside, Valentine, Waldo, 39th street, & the entire midtown area.
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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by trailerkid »

8 years...$50+ million....140 blighted properties....and all we get is a massive surface lot and a suburban Costco and Home Depot in the middle of the city?

I know that it is nice to have these retailers in the city, but it sends the wrong message. We don't need the suburbs in the city. We will be back where we started from in 10 years and these buildings will look outdated.

I just wish that they would have asked for a little more pizzazz in the design of the buildings and the site. It doesn't have to be out of this world, but just give us something besides 119th and Metcalf in the middle of the city.

Check out the colorful California design Target did at inner suburban Lakewood Mall...
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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by FangKC »

Yep. There is nothing wrong with adding a little whimsy to the design of those big-box retailers.

I wouldn't call it a blunder per se. Putting Kemper Arena in the West Bottoms was a blunder. I don't think it's as successful as many city leaders would have liked. Nonetheless, there is commerce occurring there now where before there were only blighted houses and apartments. Since there is a lot of home renovation going on in neighborhoods in midtown, it is probably more convenient having a Home Depot nearby than having to go to the edge of the metro to visit one, so having it there serves a purpose.

I think Costco appeals to some inner city residents who want to get better prices that they'd have to drive a great distance to match. Since there are a lot of low-income families in the immediate area, it's probably helpful to them to be able to buy some staple items in bulk. It is also closer for those people who have to take the bus to shop.

Since there were no big retailers left in Midtown before Costco and Home Depot, it has given some residents more options. The closest discount place otherwise is the Ward Parkway Target, which wasn't there when Midtown Marketplace opened.

I don't think MM is completely finished either. There are still some smaller parcels to be developed. I would have rather seen Target, K-Mart, or Walmart there, since low-income people really depend on discounters like them. Costco doesn't have the wide variety of items that these other discounters do, and not everyone really needs to buy peanut butter in 5 lb. increments.

As much as some people bash these big-box discount retailers, they do benefit people who live on the margins--from paycheck to paycheck. A box of cereal that costs $3.50 at SunFresh costs $1.50 at Walmart. Campbell's Chunky Soups at SunFresh are $2.25-$2.75 a can, where you can get them for $1.50 at Walmart all the time. When you are a single mother with three kids to feed--making just over minimum wage, that helps you a great deal. However, the irony is that the single mother struggles to make ends meet because she works for Walmart. :lol:

I have a cousin who is disabled, and is the mother of twins. She lives on less than $15,000 a year. She barely gets by. Saving $25-50 a month on groceries determines whether she'll be able to afford gas for her car or not.

It's a shame that these retailers have abandoned--or outright avoid--the inner core where a lot of low-income people live. Of all people in the city, they would most benefit by having stores with low prices nearby. Having to drive 30 or more miles round-trip to find cheaper groceries adds up when gas is $1.50 a gallon, and one drives a 15-year-old gas guzzler.

I wish there had been more residential added to that development too--especially on the Gillham Rd. side. There is also that vacant plot of land across the street from those remodeled Victorian apartments (on E. 32nd Terrace I think) that would be perfect for building more townhouses or apartments.
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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by GRID »

I agree, although I think the city tried it's best to get a good development in there and after five years of going nowhere, they took what they could get. It's too bad just a couple of years later typical big box retailers are now doing urban stores with multi levels, that face the street and have hidden structured parking.

I now wish KC would have waited a couple more years becasue that thing is a discrace to an urban area and we will be right back where we were in 1990 in just under ten years when Home Depot or Costco pulls out of that location and those cheap big boxes turn into eysores faster than you could imagine.

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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by trailerkid »

Wow Grid...sweet photo.

That aerial really shows how important this chunk of land is in relation to Midtown and the rest of the city. When redeveloping the focus should've been to create a city center for the Midtown neighborhood. Mid-rise condos mixed with retail, local bars, national restaurants, clubs and offices all in a pedestrian-dependent green landscape.

New urbanism anyone?

Funny how the suburbs come to Midtown (Midtown Marketplace) and the city is being shipped to the 'burbs (Zona, etc.).

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Post by dangerboy »

It's not a blunder or a failure. Both stores started off very strong, but slowed as the economy crashed. They definitely meet a need for the thousands of us that live in the core. Sure the design is lacking and had the misfortunae of getting built right before retailers started building better stuff in urban areas. But, don't forget how much of an eyesore the vacant lot was. The sit sat empty for so long, and the city was under intense pressure from the neighborhoods to get ANYTHING built there.

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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by tat2kc »

One of the big reasons it tends to look so isolated has been the difficulty in securing tenants for some of the pad sites along the edges. Get those filled in and it will look completely different. I have so though, some of the new Home Depots that fit in quite well with an urban setting. I wish they had those designs when ours was built! I do love both stores though, always shop there.

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Post by macnw »

I just think back to what used to be there. This area was a dump back in the 1980's. Talk about giving a city a bad reputation. This area between Gillham and Main was prostitution heaven. I remember driving down 32nd and being propositioned from "girls" in the street. I guess this is big city life, but is that what we want in such a prime location? I think the design could be improved. Take some of that money and plant some barriers(trees/shrubs etc) from Home Depot. Some trees in the parking lots would look ok also. What is going on with the vacant lot to the south. Could/should be some moderate type housing. Prime location, if done right.

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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by staubio »

Who else was courted for this spot that we couldn't get? Where are the empty pads that are yet to be developed? I assume these smaller pads are for smaller investments like banks, fast food, etc, but the site is pretty much packed with the two stores and parking. I'm sure some of the parking could be encroached upon.

If there is indeed unfilled pads to be developed, is this still being pursued? Did the city buy this land to clear it and push for development.

This is something I'd love to do some more research on. Google, here I come.

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Post by bahua »

I usually agree that something is better than nothing, but not in this case, because the "something," is actually worse for the neighborhood than an empty lot, in my opinion. I don't care that they're ugly. What I care about is the negative effect they have on area businesses. It's damn near impossible to survive now, as an independently-owned hardware store, or as a general retailer, with those stores sitting there. They have done, and are doing, exactly what big-box stores do: kill everybody else, eliminate higher-paying competitors(which are and were located in areas that aren't currently blighted), encourage suburban car culture in the middle of the city, and many other things that help the specific things I mentioned deteriorate the standard of living for tens thousands of people.

I think it's the worst thing that's happened in Kansas City since Sprint moved to Overland Park.

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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by dangerboy »

staubio wrote:Who else was courted for this spot that we couldn't get? Where are the empty pads that are yet to be developed? I assume these smaller pads are for smaller investments like banks, fast food, etc, but the site is pretty much packed with the two stores and parking. I'm sure some of the parking could be encroached upon.

If there is indeed unfilled pads to be developed, is this still being pursued? Did the city buy this land to clear it and push for development.

This is something I'd love to do some more research on. Google, here I come.
Target was the first choice, but they couldn't be convinced. This was back before they begain taking an interest in urban locations. K-Mart was the second choice, but they pulled out when the company went into bankruptcy protection. Costco was the eventual third choice. Overall it just suffered from very bad timing. Even Home Depot has since modified it's store designs to include compact, multi-story stores in urban areas. If Midtown Marketplace was being planned today it would probably look very different.

Another key facet of this project that hasn't been mentioned is that some of the TIF revenue pays for grants and loans that residents of the surrounding neighborhoods can use for home improvment.

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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by KCK »

Ugly.
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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by rxlexi »

certainly not one of the cities greatest blunders...try Kemper or the stadium locations or the numerous cases of poor response and management by city hall through the years for the real blunders.. ](*,)

I do agree Midtown Marketplace is ugly, contains waaaay too much surface parking lot, and could/should have been created in a more urban vein. However on the whole, in my opinion, it's a success. It brings some form of commerce to a once struggling area (things are begining to pick up now) and encourages new residents to move in by offering convenient, expected suburban services in the urban core. I'm sure many people don't care about what it looks like and are simply happy to have a bright, clean shopping area and quality stores operating here. I always go to that Costco and love it, as opposed to driving out into the depressing wilds of Kansas for the same stuff, as that's the alternative.

I will restate that it could have been a lot more impressive, however, and I hope that the outer lots are eventually filled with some types of stores. By the way, does anyone have a picture of what was on that lot before MM? I've always wondered...
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Is Midtown Marketplace one of the city's greatest blunders?

Post by trailerkid »

I am just sick of the "good enough" reactions. Why should we settle for just building whatever?

Honestly, I just can't wait until MM is redeveloped in the future when the fortunes of Costco and Home Depote change (i.e. Montgomery Ward, Kmart) and the ares is once again declared blighted.

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Post by KCK »

The stadiums are located in a great place right along the highway. Since they are far away from everything, you don't have to worry about horrible traffic congestion. I know you can't see the buildings from the stadiums, but I really never cared. I love seeing baseball more than seeing the skyline.
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Post by rxlexi »

I'll never forget going to a Royals game with a friend from out of town who looked over at the Adam's Mark and said, albeit jokingly, "is that downtown Kansas City?". Or the Chiefs game last season where the broadcaster said something about "right here in Independence MO". So, yes in my opinion shameful remarks like that demonstrate why the stadium location is unfortunate at the least. The teams need, minimum, a skyline view....some kind of KC flavor. They are wonderful stadiums though...ok sorry off topic.
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Post by staubio »

DeadManWalking wrote:The stadiums are located in a great place right along the highway. Since they are far away from everything, you don't have to worry about horrible traffic congestion. I know you can't see the buildings from the stadiums, but I really never cared. I love seeing baseball more than seeing the skyline.
I'll take one more foray into off-topic here....

Why are we so traffic obsessed? It seems like the only thing we have pride in is our cars and our roads. I'd prefer to not have to worry about traffic congestion because I could walk or take transit to the stadium. The community could benefit so much more from our professional sports if we had some parasite commerce instead of a freeway interchange at the stadium.

I agree that the facilities are marvelous but there is no ambiance in the area at all. The city around you is part of the experience. I really abhor baseball but I go to games because it is a great experience that really gives us all a sense of community and pride.

...but walking out of a game doesn't extend that euphoria. It is like leaving a suburban Wal-Mart store. We need to worry more about the whole experience and think outside the box instead of with our car-obsessed paradigm.

The traffic excuse is only relevant if we need to drive to get there. We don't have to. We certainly wouldn't have to if the stadium were more centralized. I'll never view "close to the highway" as a qualification for a great location, but I guess that is my opinion.

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Post by KCK »

staubio wrote:
I'll take one more foray into off-topic here....

Why are we so traffic obsessed? It seems like the only thing we have pride in is our cars and our roads. I'd prefer to not have to worry about traffic congestion because I could walk or take transit to the stadium. The community could benefit so much more from our professional sports if we had some parasite commerce instead of a freeway interchange at the stadium.

I agree that the facilities are marvelous but there is no ambiance in the area at all. The city around you is part of the experience. I really abhor baseball but I go to games because it is a great experience that really gives us all a sense of community and pride.

...but walking out of a game doesn't extend that euphoria. It is like leaving a suburban Wal-Mart store. We need to worry more about the whole experience and think outside the box instead of with our car-obsessed paradigm.

The traffic excuse is only relevant if we need to drive to get there. We don't have to. We certainly wouldn't have to if the stadium were more centralized. I'll never view "close to the highway" as a qualification for a great location, but I guess that is my opinion.
Well for one thing, I don't live in the urban core, so no matter what happens I still have to drive to the game. I find it easiest for me to drive places in areas I'm not extremely great with, if they are near the highway.

I worry about traffic because I'm not good with KCMO roads and heavy traffic in a downtown area filled with one way streets has gotten me lost more than one time in downtown KCMO. Unless you are putting a stadium in each of the suburbs, a lot of people will still have to drive to get there. More people live in the suburbs than the core you know.
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Post by trailerkid »

Block from Block & Co. is sounding off about the Star criticizing MM. He is basically saying that MM had no leverage with the retailer and that we should be happy we got anything there.

He claims that MM played a role in landing the Fed.
:roll:

Yes, MM was a blighted area..duh! But what Block put in there would be more appropriate out by Bannister Mall or Indian Springs. It does not belong on the edge of downtown...period.
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Post by Dr. Know »

Note to Stephen Block:
That two story building at the corner of Linwood and Main is GOD AWEFUL. Way to cut corners.

It's good to know that one of the most prominent developers in KC is telling us that what we got w/mm was the only option. If all the developers thought this way....we could be in trouble. What we got was the cheapest option w/the greatest developers profit margin.
I understand his point but there is no denying the ugliness of his project.

Furthermore, I don't think most of the downtown movers and shakers are very happy about the Fed leaving the loop but he infers that this is some kind of major victory.

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