As debates continue on Twitter as to whether or not 2016 was the #WorstYearEver, we in the Kansas City area might do well to look the other way.
That being forward — to some glimmers of good that await in 2017.
How about 17 of them?
For example, at midyear a 31-story “vertical neighborhood” will be springing to life in downtown’s Commerce Tower.
Just weeks from now the emerging Cerner campus will bring 3,000 prime jobs, with thousands more to come, to the site where the last remnants of Bannister Mall died a decade ago.
Area bicyclists will have a few more safe places to ride. And young athletes will come to the 18th and Vine Jazz District to play baseball, basketball and tennis.
Sports indeed is a recurring theme to the upside to the region’s year ahead.
Consider if you will these 17 reasons to believe that not all is awful:
1) Research suggests that a successful run for the Chiefs in the NFL playoffs could benefit your pocketbook and even your health.
A study out of the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla determined some years back that residents in the city that wins a Super Bowl earn an extra $140 per person in annual income. This supposedly is due to happiness boosting consumer spending and workplace productivity.
Furthermore, a University of Southern California cardiologist found that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ triumph in the 2009 Super Bowl may have saved lives. Pittsburgh-area doctors over the next eight days saw circulatory heart-related deaths drop by 25 percent below the usual number.
2) We can only hope that being host for the Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships may produce such outcomes. On Jan. 14-22, the competition will take place both at Kansas City’s Sprint Center and the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence.
Local tourism officials estimate the event will deliver an $18.1 million economic lift.
3) In February about 3,000 workers, mostly engineers, will settle into the first new buildings of Cerner’s $4.45 billion Innovations Campus, finally restoring a heartbeat to the former shopping mall site near Interstate 435. When the whole thing is finished in a decade, the campus will support 16,000 workers.
4) The highly-anticipated Bloch Galleries at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will open with a March 11-12 celebration.
The Marion and Henry Bloch Collection, a result of more than 20 years of art gathering, almost doubles the museum’s impressionist works with nearly 30 masterpieces by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Gustave Caillebotte and other masters.
5) In Kansas City, the easing of marijuana laws could reach beyond a new Missouri statute effective Jan. 1 (with bipatisan support) that allows for fines but no jail time to first-time offenders caught with less than 10 grams. The City Council will be deciding what to do with a citizens petition that seeks a public vote to decriminalize possession of 35 grams or less.
7) The first week of the season will see the blooming of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Midwest Regional at Sprint Center, March 23 and 25.
8) Sometime before Easter, lights inside the the new Leawood sanctuary of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, near 135th Street and Nall Avenue, will illuminate Resurrection Window — a stained-glass colossus about three stories high and 100 feet across. The city has allowed the megachurch to light the spectacle as late as 11 p.m. nightly.
9) Bicyclists will have more options this spring over last, though local routes remain disjointed.
During winter in Pleasant Hill, a ribbon cutting opened a bike-and-hike path along the old Rock Island Railroad right of way leading to Missouri's popular Katy Trail in Windsor. In south Kansas City, the Blue River Trail was lengthened. Crews are working on a section of the Trolley Track Trail weakened by a sinkhole near Tracy and Woodland avenues.
And Overland Park will stripe roads around the old downtown to create some 30 miles of bike lanes.
10) Warming weather will find Union Station’s Science City stretching outdoors. The first major makeover of the station since its 1999 reopening includes green spaces and an events plaza where more than a dozen rail lines once tangled near the depot’s northwest corner.
New pedestrian and traffic bridges, outdoor exhibits and festivals slated for the Haverty Family Yards — a $1 million gift from the Michael and Marlys Haverty Foundation — will enhance the Science City experience, said Union Station marketing chief Michael Tritt. No longer will school groups wind through two floors of the station to reach Science City; a new entrance will feature a “space portal” that gives visitors the feeling of passing through the cosmos.
11) Barring building delays near Troost Avenue and 89th Street, 10 tiny houses for homeless military veterans will open for occupancy. The privately-funded Veterans Community Project, which drew global news attention in 2016, aims to eventually build a village of as many as 50 homes, each 12 feet by 20 feet.
A planned community center eventually will provide veterans services, job placement help and training in life skills.
12) A $14.5 million project partnering Kansas City, Major League Baseball and the Royals will give rise to the Urban Youth Baseball Academy in the jazz district. Phase 1 — to include three baseball fields, softball field and relocated basketball and tennis courts — should be finished by July.
13) Around the same time on the Kansas side, you’ll be thankful for at least two other construction efforts wrapping up:
▪ At the University of Kansas Hospital campus, a new parking garage, pedestrian bridges, health education building and completion of structural work on the $280 million Cambridge North Tower will relieve more than a year of parking headaches and traffic snarls.
▪ A couple of years worth of closed lanes, rerouted exits and driving delays should cease for now with the redone I-70 interchange with Kansas 7. On the interstate, traffic in both directions will broaden from two lanes to three.
14) Viewing parties are expected across the area for a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21. It is the first of its kind visible in the contiguous United States since Jimmy Carter was president.
Visitors from around the globe are said to be planning trips to St. Joseph and other premium places in the blackout path. Downtown Kansas City will go dark around 1 p.m.
15) Before summer is done Commerce Tower at 911 Main St. ought to be brimming with apartment residents whose so-called “vertical neighborhood” will include more than 300 living units, a restaurant, bank, Park University classes, early childhood center and indoor dog park.
“It’s a pretty awesome project. We’re proud of it,” said Mike McKeen of EPC Real Estate Group, the building manager. Half of the apartments already are taken and 10 more are claimed weekly in pre-leases.
16) About 150 giant pinwheels and twice as many construction jobs will emerge in northwest Missouri, home to the Rock Creek Wind Farm. The 300-megawatt field, located in Atchison County, will boast the largest crop of wind turbines in the state.
Project manager Enel Green Power North America hopes the energy to be deliverable to Kansas City Power & Light by year’s end.
17) In mid-December, the Sprint Center will be jumpin’ when the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship Final Four comes to town.
For those who didn’t know that Division 1 women’s volleyball had a Final Four, Columbus, Ohio, can vouch that the 2016 tourney filled 11,000 hotel rooms and brought an estimated $10 million in spending to that host city.
“With lots of sports stuff happening, ’17 is going to be a good year for us,” said VisitKC spokesman Toni Alexander.
And speaking of sports, dare we stretch this list to 18 reasons to look forward to the coming year?
It doesn’t hurt to hope that the Royals have another World Series run in them.
Going 81-81 last season, perhaps not. But earlier this decade they wouldn’t even have been mentioned here.