Downtown’s comeback is continuing in grand fashion with the planned renovations of two historic and high-profile buildings.
It’s exciting to think that, in just a few years, hundreds of people likely will be living in the “new” Power & Light Building while many visitors stay in a restored Savoy Hotel.
The Power & Light upgrades are expected to put 217 more apartments on the market starting next year, along with 58 units proposed in an adjacent building that also will feature retail and a parking garage. It’s good to see such a historic property — an older office building that’s struggled to attract tenants — finally get an appropriate reuse.
It’s also encouraging that, despite a fire that gutted the Savoy Grill’s kitchen in October, a developer has signed off on plans to remake the hotel into a boutique operation of about 120 rooms, plus a prominent restaurant and art gallery.
These and other pieces of positive news help showcase the fact that Kansas City is steadily moving forward in attracting new residents, which is the single best way to boost the urban core’s vitality.
Downtown’s population now tops 20,000, and many already-rehabilitated apartment buildings are near capacity. Boosters say that number could go up several thousand more in the next five years.
That’s going to be easier to do, it appears, given the enthusiastic reception by potential renters to One Light, the 25-story, 315-unit building developed by the Cordish Co. It’s the first new large residential structure inside the loop in decades. And more Cordish-led buildings may follow if One Light fills up quickly.
Meanwhile, city officials correctly are working the other side of the equation, trying to woo new businesses downtown. The city must stay focused on reversing the worrisome decline of downtown workers over the last 15 years.
Downtown’s comeback isn’t cheap for taxpayers, who are pouring in tens of millions of dollars to subsidize private companies’ projects. Mayor Sly James and the City Council must participate only in the best deals, those that will actually get done and result in more residents and employers locating downtown.
One of the big contributors to a revitalized core — the two-mile streetcar starter line — should be completed in about a year. It’s going to be a valuable long-term investment if it helps convince more people that downtown Kansas City is the place for them to be.