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PLAN HUGE URBAN CENTER

DATE OF EVENT: Wednesday, Jan. 4, 1967

DATE PUBLISHED: Wednesday, Jan. 4, 1967, in The Kansas City Star

Editor’s note: Hallmark Cards Inc. President Donald J. Hall’s plan to redevelop the unsightly “Signboard Hill” was destined to become a Kansas City landmark, a cutting-edge example of urban planning. The development would include spaces for shops, offices, housing and entertainment. The center opened in 1973.

A proposal to convert 85 acres immediately south of downtown Kansas City into a model urban community was filed today with the City Plan commission by the Crown Center Redevelopment corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

The project would include much of the area between Main street and Robert Gilham road, Twenty-second street to Twenty-seventh street terrace. It would exclude the Hallmark international headquarters at Twenty-fifth street and McGee trafficway, the Our Lady of Sorrows church and grounds at Twenty-sixth and Gilham, and Washington Square, between Main and Grand north of Pershing road.

Signboard Hill, the now unhandsome, craggy promontory jutting above Main street on one side, above Grand avenue on the other, and running from Pershing road nearly to Twenty-seventh street, would disappear. It is to be “crowned” with apartments of varying size and height. A motor inn would be built at the southern tip.

The plan calls for a hotel complex on the south side of Pershing road, and extending from Main to Grand.

The total concept calls for approximately 2,500 living units in multistories and terraced-garden apartment structures, office buildings of the “high rise,” “medium rise” and “low rise” categories; a cultural or recreational development, two motor inns, small shops, minimal commercial facilities, a vast area of underground parking, and parks, plazas, pedestrian paths, foot bridges and other features which will enhance the open spaces.

Crown Center was chartered last Nov. 3, with Lynn W. Bauer, who has guided Hallmark real estate and construction programs the last 20 years, elected president of the new subsidiary. …

He is hopeful that first ground can be broken in 1968, “perhaps even fairly early in the year.” The construction would be in four stages, with the timetable calling for completion of the first phase in 1972 and the entire project completed in 1983. …

Mayor Ilus W. Davis called the Crown Center plan a “majestic concept.”

“This is a milestone in Kansas City’s growth,” the mayor said. “A model urban community at the edge of downtown will make Kansas City a showplace. It is a resounding vote of confidence by Crown Center in Kansas City’s growth and international importance. When the Hospital Hill urban renewal project on the east and the St. Mary’s-Trinity Lutheran projects to the southwest are completed, along with Crown Center, Kansas City will be graced by one of the most magnificent urban developments in the nation.”

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