Development

KCATA’s revolutionary Third-and-Grand plan wins council committee OK

A planned commercial development in River Market partners the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority with Briarcliff Development Co. to mix a transportation hub with offices and retail.
A planned commercial development in River Market partners the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority with Briarcliff Development Co. to mix a transportation hub with offices and retail. rsugg@kcstar.com

The idea of blending a busy public transportation hub and a business partner’s development dream makes perfect sense, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority President Robbie Makinen told a City Council committee Wednesday.

And he didn’t just mean the big idea on the table between KCATA and Briarcliff Development Co. at Third Street and Grand Boulevard.

That plan, which breezed through the City Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee Wednesday, is just the beginning.

“We’re redefining public transportation in this region,” Makinen said after the hearing. “We’ve got to change the dynamics. This is a new day.”

The committee ushered the proposal on with a rapid advance to the full City Council on Thursday where it is expected to pass.

“This is a great partnership…and an example of the things we should be doing,” City Councilwoman Katheryn Shields said.

The partners are imagining a two-tower office complex on the site, retail centers and a parking structure all linked to a transportation hub for bicycles, bus lines and the Kansas City streetcar in Kansas City’s River Market community.

The council members endorsed the plan, with committee chairman Scott Taylor emphasizing the developers’ pledge to recruit anchor business tenants from outside the region — not poaching across the state line or other parts of Kansas City.

The KCATA wants this development to be “a template” for more projects where the public transportation opportunities are brought into the mix at the beginning of economic development plans.

“We want to drive business,” Makinen said. “We want to drive ridership. And we want to be good community partners.”

Too often, he told the committee, commercial developers build out on a greenfield site and bring in 600 workers who then say, “Hey, the public transportation stinks.”

That won’t have to happen, he said, “when we are in on the front end of the process.”

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