A zoning kerfuffle has threatened a bar that has operated for more than three decades at the corner of West 44th Street and Belleview Avenue.
The Point, at a busy intersection northwest of the Country Club Plaza, has had its ups and downs, with noise and parking problems fought by some of the neighbors. In recent years, though, the tavern has made friends with most of the West Plaza Neighborhood.
Melissa Redman, who leases the property and has operated the bar for about five years, reduced the bar’s hours from a 3 a.m. closing to 1:30 a.m., spruced up the property, and worked with nearby offices to maintain access to after-hours parking for overflow from The Point’s lot.
The Country Club Bank, across 44th street from the tavern, continues to object to spillover traffic on its property. But, for the most part, Redman expected a relatively smooth path as she worked to maintain the tavern and plan for her property’s growth.
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The path got rocky, though, when the Kansas City Planning & Development Department told her that the land use certificate The Point has long operated under doesn’t allow for a bar at that location.
Add in a further complication stemming from the broad Midtown Plaza Area Plan, a land use document approved by the City Council in early 2016 after two years of citizen input. The area plan says a bar doesn’t belong there, either.
“We want a three-decade-plus business to continue to operate,” The Point’s attorney Spencer Thomson told the City Plan Commission at a recent meeting when the zoning issue went public. “It’s always been a tavern. Its liquor license is routinely renewed. We’re here to keep my client in business.”
Joe Montanari, president of the West Plaza Neighborhood Association and a member of the group that worked on the Midtown Plaza Area Plan, pleaded at the commission hearing: “No one intended to put a nice lady out of business. This is an unforeseen situation, and now we have a mess on our hands.”
City planner Ashley Winchell said a way to clean up the mess was for the City Council to approve rezoning for the tavern and its patio that would allow it to continue to do business as a bar. But to do that, The Point property needs to be reclassified into two zoning classes.
That’s because Redman also has a building to the east on 44th Street, adjacent to The Point’s patio. She proposes bringing it to life as a coffee shop. That commercial use would take a slightly different zoning designation to comply with the Midtown Plaza Area Plan.
In other words, the bar and patio would need rezoning to be allowed to continue as a tavern, and the other building would need a different kind of zoning to be sure its commercial use remains something other than a drinking establishment.
After lengthy discussion, the commission, city staff and Redman agreed that Redman should get a new legal description for the two parts of the property. Once in hand, the two-part rezoning will go to the City Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee and, if approved, on to the council as a whole.
“This appears to be an ideal outcome that doesn’t allow the Midtown Plaza Area Plan to have inadvertent consequences or put somebody out of business,” Thomson said.