Historic KC Decries Skyscraper Violating Country Club Plaza Plan

A glimpse and/or roundup of the ongoing debate from Kansas City preservationists . . .

Drake Development submitted plans to the city for a “Cocina47” development that would build six floors of luxury condominiums above three levels of restaurant space. The developer plans to demolish the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist, a 1942-era structure, to make way for the new structure. Because of its height, the project would need a variance from City Hall to get around the Plaza Overlay District zoning standards the city has implemented on buildings in and around the Plaza. Parking also remains an issue.

Historic Kansas City, Plaza neighborhood groups, Block Real Estate, and Taubman Realty Group, which owns and operates the Country Club Plaza shops and restaurants, all opposed the nine-story building, which grossly exceeds the city’s 45-foot height requirement.

Now here's the argument from our 2nd favorite activists who continue their fight to save the plaza despite so many losing efforts . . .

What's At Stake

What is fundamentally at issue here is rules-based, citizen-informed development . . . in this case, the mandatory maximum heights allowed, not recommended, under the Plaza Bowl Overlay District Ordinance unanimously passed by the Mayor and City Council in 2019.

Mayors, city managers and city councils come and go but all of us in the community who make investments -- and that includes our homes -- need reliable rules on which to base reasonable and enduring decisions. The issue is far larger than the Plaza and the risk is that politics -- not carefully considered and durable policies -- will govern throughout our community.  

With the Plaza Plan and other area plans; the FOCUS plan; zoning overlays and the like, we have tried to elevate durable rules and policy over fad, fashion and the politics of the moment. That is the fundamental issue.  

It is not a proposition of freezing the development of the city -- far from it, as experience shows. It has to do with enabling synergistic and compatible development, harmonizing neighborhoods and other built amenities and spaces into a community worthy of the special claims we all like to make for Kansas City.  

How could something like the Plaza ever have "happened" without guiding insights, practice and pattern that transcend this or next year’s elections? Without a Plaza Plan as developed over 30 years ago and re-confirmed unanimously by City Council only six years ago?
This season's follies are no substitute for stable, citizen-based AND CITY-ENFORCED planning. That's what creates and sustains desirable venues for development, which is why we have controversy on the Plaza now. Someone wants the benefit of 100 years of careful and sound development but is unwilling to conform to what makes the Plaza great.

It’s as simple as “Follow the Rules.” It’s an ordinance, not a guide. Enforce it. 


Developing . . .