A Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday endorsed height and use restrictions intended to preserve the ambiance and vibrancy of the Country Club Plaza.
Highwoods Properties, which owns the Plaza and has put it up for sale, had raised concerns in September that potential zoning code changes could hinder the distinctive development’s progress.
But after working with the city, attorney Mike White said Highwoods can live with these rules, because they preserve most of the existing height allowances and don’t impede high-quality retail uses.
He said Highwoods would prefer no restrictions but mainly needed certainty, and these guidelines help provide that.
The full council votes on the development code amendments in early January.
After the committee vote, White said Highwoods is getting “lots of interest” from prospective buyers nationally and hopes to complete the sale in early 2016.
He said it’s expected that any buyer would know the qualities that make the Plaza special and would want to keep it that way.
“The Plaza is a feeling,” Councilwoman Heather Hall said during the meeting, noting that it’s important for the city’s rules to help maintain its character and appeal.
The committee also approved a much broader area plan for the entire midtown and Plaza area, from 31st to 55th streets and from State Line to the Paseo. It updates a 1989 plan and provides a framework for future development affecting 27 neighborhoods.
Residents, historic preservationists and development attorneys praised the process and said it has resulted in a plan that should promote one of the most dynamic parts of town.
Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, who lives in the plan area, said that at one point she thought the process would never end, but the final result was something nearly everyone could support.
“It’s come to a very good (end),” she said.