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The Kansas City Club padlocks its doors and pursues bankruptcy

A note to Kansas City Club members said a decade of financial shortfalls had given way to an expected bankruptcy. Hopes linger around a plan to perhaps reopen at a less expensive location.
A note to Kansas City Club members said a decade of financial shortfalls had given way to an expected bankruptcy. Hopes linger around a plan to perhaps reopen at a less expensive location. The Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Club, after 133 years, has closed its doors, as its “cash flow situation has become untenable,” a note to members said.

The club, founded in 1882, has struggled financially but remained open with the help of loans and gifts and the “personal time and very often personal funds” of members and the club’s board of directors, club officials said in the note.

Club directors said they had decided to hire an attorney and file for bankruptcy.

The Kansas City Club’s communications officer declined to comment but shared the note that went out to members. A chain and padlock on the esteemed institution’s double doors conveyed the news to passersby.

The board has turned to real estate agent Gib Kerr to seek a buyer for the club’s building at 918 Baltimore Ave. The hope is that a sale would generate enough money to resume operations in a less expensive or leased location.

In 2001, the Kansas City Club merged with the University Club at the 918 Baltimore location. They operated at the Kansas City Club’s former home at 1228 Baltimore for a few months while work on the University Club site was being done.

In its day, the Kansas City Club had some of Kansas City’s premier names as members and visitors, including Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, Gen. Omar Bradley and Marion Laboratories founder Ewing Kauffman.

Current members were told that a sale of the 918 Baltimore building could take a while. Meanwhile, clubhouse operations ceased at the end of the day Saturday, though a limited staff plans to honor banquet obligations, according to the note.

Efforts to sign up new members continued at least until last week, according to a Twitter post from one visitor.

Also last week, Mayor Sly James of Kansas City spoke at the club at a meeting of the Downtowners, an information association of downtown workers and residents.

Despite the closing, the club’s board members said they were “committed to meeting payroll and bank obligations.”

Debts listed in the note included “increasing employee pension obligations,” a bank note and two personal loans from members. Members were told they could make arrangements to retrieve personal belongings.

The Kansas City Club’s website said it is a member of the International Association of Clubs, which provides members reciprocal privileges at other clubs.

Financial struggles have spread to similar clubs throughout the nation, the Kansas City Club note to members said, noting only 18 percent of city clubs active in the 1980s remain open today.

Follow Mark Davis on Facebook and Twitter at mdkcstar.

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