There was no gathering of dignitaries. No canned remarks or staged groundbreaking. Just a few construction workers and portable toilets.
For the more than two years of delays and political squabbles that have encircled Kansas City’s new convention hotel, construction of the $325 million project got off to an unremarkable beginning on Monday. The overcast morning was bereft of the ceremonial theatrics that normally kick off major local projects.
But Monday’s beginning of work on the 800-room Loews hotel site at 16th Street and Baltimore Avenue stuck with the time line announced last week when the developers closed on its financing.
A worker at the site said that on Tuesday a fence would close off the construction area — part of which is grassy, undeveloped ground and part of which is a parking lot. And downtown traffic-goers should prepare for lane closings.
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The construction schedule has the hotel opening in March 2020, hopefully in time for that year’s Big 12 men’s college basketball tournament and likely ahead of the first major convention for the new hotel, a gathering of 20,000 Shriners.
One thing was clear on Monday: The blocking off of Baltimore on the east side of the site and the reduction of 16th Street to one lane of eastbound traffic means on-and-off vehicle and pedestrian detours for the next two years.
According to a traffic control permit on file with the Kansas City Public Works Department, construction contractors can close sidewalks all around the construction site, which is bounded by Truman Road to the north, Baltimore to the west, Wyandotte to the east and 16th Street to the south.
In addition, lane closures mean that Wyandotte will at times be a one way street heading southbound.