Launch Slideshow

Kansas City, Kan.

The history of Kansas City is a tale of two cities.

Kansas City, Kan.

The history of Kansas City is a tale of two cities.

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    Marc Carver

    In June 1804, trekkers Lewis and Clark camped where the Kansas and Missouri rivers meet. Clark declared the site, now home to Kansas City, a "beautiful" one for a fort.

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    Google Earth

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    MARK MCDONALD

    CENTER FOR ADVANCED HEART CARE, UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS HOSPITAL Architect: RTKL Associates, Dallas Developer: University of Kansas Completed: 2006 Cost: $77 million This 238,000-square-foot medical facility just south of downtown includes 82 private patient rooms, high-tech labs, cardiovascular operating rooms, a patient learning and resource center, and a rehabilitation fitness area.

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    Bnim Architects

    BOARD OF PUBLIC UTILITIES BUILDING Architect: BNIM Architects, Kansas City, Mo. Developer: DST Realty Completed: 2002 Cost: $11.2 million The 100,000-square-foot downtown building is the headquarters for the local water and electric utility and also houses a hotel. Among its accolades: the 2003 AIA Kansas Merit Award and the 2004 AIA Kansas City Design Award.

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    Susan Richards Johnson & Assoc.

    HISTORIC FIRE STATION NO. 9 Architect: Susan Richards Johnson & Associates, Kansas City, Mo. Developer: Community Housing Wyandotte County Completed: 2006 Cost: $1 million This circa 1910 firehouse in the Prescott neighborhood underwent a complete restoration last year, earning it the Historic Kansas City Foundation Preservation Award.

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    Schlitterbahn Resorts Worldwide

    SCHLITTERBAHN VACATION VILLAGE Architect: Berger Devine Yaeger, Kansas City, Mo. Developer: Schlitterbahn Resorts Worldwide Planned Completion: 2009 (Phase 1) Cost: $750 million Touted by its developer as the "largest and most elaborate entertainment destination in history," this 376-acre project will include a water park and manmade waterways.

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    Mike Sinclair

    THE LEGENDS AT VILLAGE WEST Architects: Gould Evans Associates, Kansas City, Mo. (architect of record); HTH Group, Beverly Hills, Calif. (design architect); RED Development, Kansas City, Mo. Developer: RED Development Completed: 2006 Cost: $250 million The 1.2-million-square-foot open-air retail and entertainment center has more than 90 stores and restaurants.

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    Steve Swalwell

    COMMUNITYAMERICA BALLPARK Architect: 360 Architecture, Kansas City, Mo. Developers: Ehlert Development Corp., RED Development Completed: 2003 Cost: $12 million Home to the minor league T-Bones, the 5,000-seat stadium is located a few miles from downtown. The venue imitates great baseball parks of the past, with its footprint determined by the existing city grid.

The history of Kansas City is a tale of two cities. The Missouri city was established in the 1820s, followed in 1868 by its sister city (known locally as KCK) across the Missouri River. Linked by more than a shared name and bridges, the two form one large metropolitan area. Each city retains its own identity, however. Until recently, KCK was the more industrial one, while the other city got most of the corporate headquarters and entertainment, sports, and cultural venues. But since the decision to consolidate the KCK and Wyandotte County governments in 1997 (KCK is the county seat), fortunes are beginning to change on the western side. The city known as the Heart of America is getting a massive facelift, with new master planned communities, enormous entertainment complexes, and a rash of downtown revitalization under way.

“Several years ago, Kansas City realized [it] needed to do something to ensure a healthy, growing, vibrant downtown and surrounding areas,” says David Rezac, principal of local firm 360 Architecture. Citizens approved gambling, resulting in plans for several new casinos; they also voted to increase the size of the convention center and revitalize the central business district. “The coming years will see our visions becoming reality,” says Rezac. The effort has already borne fruit: Money magazine put KCK on its list of top places to live in 2005 and 2006. But downtown isn't the only part of town that's experiencing growth. Areas south and west of the city's center are booming with new development.

“With unique retail and entertainment venues in Wyandotte County, growth will surpass many other areas of metropolitan Kansas City,” predicts Scott Lane, senior vice president/managing broker of Reece & Nichols, a local commercial real estate brokerage. “Developers are already beginning to expand south and west, creating additional new home community options in the higher-than-average price range. As retail moves south and west, so will the demand for housing, driving up home values and average sales price.”

JOB/POPULATION GROWTH

A July 2005 census estimated the city's population at 144,210. Job growth for the metropolitan area rose 1.4 percent from June 2006 to June 2007.

OFFICE MARKET

Wyandotte County's 470,731-square-foot office market was 21 percent vacant at midyear 2007, with average asking rates for Class A space of $15.75 per square foot. The unusually high vacancy rate is a result of, among other things, recent layoffs by large companies and moves from older buildings into more recent construction.

RESIDENTIAL MARKET

In June 2007, the average home sale price in Wyandotte and Johnson counties, the Kansas portion of the Kansas City metro area, was $247,000. Homes stayed on the market an average of 81 days.

MARKET STRENGTHS

  • More tax revenue from new developments
  • Good schools
  • Growing service sector

MARKET CONCERNS

  • Increasing unemployment rate
  • Suburban sprawl
  • Aging and inefficient infrastructure

FORECAST

“Village West [a retail and entertainment destination] and Kansas Speedway have given us leverage with new property tax dollars to reinvest in our older commercial and residential neighborhoods and increased developer interest to levels not seen in the last several decades,” says Cindy Cash, president of the local chamber of commerce.