The following statement with regard to the request to vacate the north-south and east-west alleys on the block bounded by 10th Street to the north, 11th Street to the south, Central Street on the west and Wyandotte Street on the east (Case No. 1654-V) was written by Thomas Morefield, DNA’s Vice President of Planning and Development. A copy was sent to KCMO city staff. At the City Plan Commission meeting on Oct. 21, Ellen Schwartze, DNA’s Vice President of Communications, read an abbreviated version of this statement.

The commission approved the request to vacate the alley, releasing ownership from the city and giving it to a private owner. DNA is disappointed in the City’s emerging track record of approving plans that directly contradict the Greater Downtown Area Plan, but we are hopeful that we are beginning to make progress in holding the city to the GDAP's standards.

We are excited for Crossroads Academy’s expansion and we want to reiterate our support and appreciation of their budding role in Downtown’s revitalization.

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The neighborhood would like to express our appreciation for your time and efforts in providing information and materials about the proposal.  We would also like to reiterate our strong support and appreciation for Crossroads Academy, their mission, their positive impact on Downtown, and their plans for future expansion.  However, the Downtown Neighborhood Association is strongly opposed to the proposed alley vacations, and plans to testify in opposition at tomorrow's City Plan Commission.

We are extremely disappointed that Planning Staff plans to support the vacation when the City’s own adopted Greater Downtown Area Plan identifies the preservation and utilization of alleys as a goal.

The GDAP states that:  

  • Where appropriate or feasible, the enhancement and utilization of alleys as public space is encouraged.  
  • Alleys should be integrated with overall access and site circulation whenever possible.
    • Where buildings are built to the alley edge, consider opportunities for alley display windows and secondary customer or employee entries.
    • Where intact, historic alley facades should be preserved along with original features and materials.
    • Efforts to create public spaces out of alleys are encouraged.

Further, the City’s TOD planning efforts identify the importance of alleys for a variety of connectivity, amenity, and service functions.

Alleys downtown serve a vital public purpose, and once they are gone, they are gone.  The Downtown Neighborhood Association believes that to support a vacation of this valuable public right-of-way, and forfeit this important multi-function space for a short-term, incremental reduction of maintenance costs is shortsighted in the extreme.  

Alleys form an integral part of the urban fabric and public realm in Kansas City.  In addition to their critical service functions, alleys can support a parallel network of pedestrian and bicycle mobility, strengthening overall connectivity within the Downtown.  Alleys can also function as urban public spaces for adjacent development, with a flexibility and freedom for activity that is not found on major streets. The City should encourage flexible use of alleys as connectors and public spaces, while recognizing and maintaining their important service functions - functions that in turn create greater flexibility on the street side of development.  While the proposed pedestrian walkway may limit automobile access, it does not diminish the importance or potential of the alleys on this block to serve the many functions described above.

While the Downtown Neighborhood Association opposes the proposed vacation, we believe that the redevelopment and expansion goals of Crossroads Academy can be accommodated through other mechanisms.  For example, the proposed pedestrian connection could be provided through an easement or encroachment permit process that serves the development while maintaining this valuable public resource for current and future generations.

Because it is good urban practice, and because it is adopted City policy, we request that you recommend denial of the proposed vacation of the north-south and east-west alleys between 10th, 11th, Central, and Wyandotte Streets.

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