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Despite protests, Orion Pictures building demolished in the Crossroads

The Orion Pictures building at 17th and Wyandotte streets was demolished Monday despite opposition by preservationists who said it was an integral part of the historic Film Row District.

The building at 118 W. 17th Street in the Crossroads Arts District was razed by philanthropist Shirley Helzberg to make way for a three-level garage that will have 185 spaces and retail on the ground floor.

Helzberg said the $5 million garage was needed to provide parking for two other historic buildings at the intersection of 17th and Wyandotte she has redeveloped, the Webster House and the Vitagraph Film Exchange.

The preliminary schedule calls for the garage to be completed in time for the holiday season this year.

Though preservationists opposed the demolition of the Orion, the building had no local landmark protection.

The Orion building opened in 1946 and was one of 15 buildings in the area that made up Kansas City’s Film Row. From the 1920s through the 1970s, Hollywood studios used the buildings to store and distribute films throughout the region.

It was one of about 30 similar districts around the country.

Several of the Film Row buildings have been renovated in recent years, but an effort to have the five-block area listed on the National Register of Historic Places a few years ago fell through.

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