Joco Opinion

Cultural center could revive old King Louie in Overland Park

Placing an arts and cultural center in the old King Louie West bowling alley and skating rink is an attractive option for reusing the iconic building on Metcalf Avenue.

But would a Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center be financially practical?

That’s a crucial question for Johnson County officials to study in the next few months, as this idea percolates among the county’s park and recreation board and avid arts supporters.

It’s encouraging to hear of new discussions about a facility that could include space for theater and parks programming throughout the year. The cultural center’s main tenant likely would be a relocated Johnson County Museum.

The reuse of this highly visible structure, built in the late 1950s, could be a boon for the Kansas City region as it seeks to market itself as a mecca for all forms of the arts. Johnson County, with its continued population growth, in particular could use more outlets for the arts.

However, no one yet knows how the millions of dollars required to make all this happen could be raised.

Park and recreation officials, along with county commissioners, should determine whether this idea is feasible and appealing enough for public support. The county needs good estimates on how much revenue the venture might raise as well as the projected annual operating costs.

The county bought the building in 2011 and has made major structural repairs. Those were the proper moves to make while waiting for a solid renovation proposal.

Eventually, officials must keep in mind this would be a public facility that could have tremendous benefits for Johnson Countians and other metropolitan area residents.