Yael T. Abouhalkah

GSA’s good news/bad news for downtown KC

Updated: 2013-12-11T00:38:22Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Overall, yes, the pending move by 900 General Services Administration workers to a building next to Union Station is good news for downtown Kansas City.

It’s yet another victory for that part of downtown — the area near the station and Crown Center.

Bringing the GSA employees to Two Pershing Square adds federal employees to those already working at the IRS center across the street to the southeast.

And look at this: Two Pershing Square is essentially the southern end point for Kansas City’s two-mile starter streetcar line, which is supposed to start carrying passengers in 2015.

Transit advocates justifiably will like that fact, which could help encourage more people to take the streetcar to and from work, whether they live downtown or can connect via the ATA bus system.

However …

The GSA pending move has some downsides as well.

Originally, the hope among many downtown promoters was the the GSA would come to a new building within the downtown loop. The poor economy and federal cutbacks killed that notion several years ago.

But it was still thought, again by a number of downtown boosters, that the GSA would end up somewhere within the loop. That would have brought even more activity to the densest part of the downtown area.

That also was my hope, especially given the big bet that Kansas City taxpayers have made on the Power & Light District, which needs all the customers it can get.

Plus, the GSA could have come to a building either along or near the streetcar line somewhere within the loop.

Back to being positive:

The GSA’s decision once again highlights the fact that Kansas City’s downtown is spread out, much like the entire city is.

So a “victory” for the Crown Center/Union Station area needs to be seen as a win for the entire downtown area.

In some ways, though, it’s not as big a victory as it might have been.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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