Over the past few days, several news sources have questioned the motivation behind such a stir, all over a Jimmy John’s drive-through on a busy street. While detractors state that this "rumpus" is misplaced, and we should spend our time on other, broader issues confronting downtown, we still see this as a Big Issue for the future of downtown.
What may seem like “one drive-through” to many people is a step backward for us.
Our concern is not whether or not the owners of said Jimmy John’s followed the legally-correct process when applying for permits. Where both the developer and the community were let down was in the processes of the City of Kansas City and the Downtown Council, who neglected to approach us — the neighborhood association — before approving plans. Assumptions were made on all sides: Jimmy John’s assuming the neighborhood was informed, and us assuming there would be an opportunity for review and dialogue for developments with major impacts within our boundaries. While the Downtown Council serves an important role in facilitating investments and development downtown, they do not always represent the residents’ opinions or best interests.
DNA is pro-development. One only needs to look through our Twitter timeline, Facebook page, blog posts and meeting agendas to find us welcoming projects to downtown. DNA encourages investment. We want companies and individuals to work, live and thrive in downtown. Our most visible support at the moment is the successful renovation of the Cosby Hotel – now home to two local businesses instead of a surface lot. Our membership has invested in downtown by purchasing condos, paying rent, and patronizing and operating local businesses. Many made this investment based on what they thought was and what would continue to be an urban, walkable, mixed-use neighborhood.
We are not supportive of development that directly contradicts the Greater Downtown Area Plan. In providing our input to develop this plan several years ago, we (again) assumed we were in agreement with the City to make decisions that would positively affect our community by increasing population density, growing employment in strategic sectors, and making our city more walkable among other goals. We believe that a pad-site drive-through facility directly contradicts these goals. Moving forward, DNA intends to put more pressure on the City to uphold and implement the GDAP, including rezoning of downtown to the already established downtown zoning districts.
On Monday, we were presented with the initial plans for the proposed Jimmy John’s restaurant and drive-through (below). While we appreciate the developer reaching out to us at this late stage, we still cannot support any plan that includes a drive-through facility, introduces new curb cuts on Broadway, or creates new gaps in active street frontage at this location. DNA has made a formal request to the City to refer the case to the City Plan Commission so that there can be a legitimate review and dialogue about the issues with this proposal.
Note: in the image below, the Jimmy John's is presented as wider than in the site plan (second photo).
n the event that the restaurant is built as planned, we suggested the following changes:
- Removing parking zones from street frontage
- Accommodating future development by not centering the building on the lot
- Adding bike racks
- Adding signs that warn drivers of pedestrian and bike traffic crossing the entrances/exits
- Providing access from the east side of the property to cater to pedestrian traffic
- Building site walls on either edge of the property to block the view of parked cars and preserve the aesthetic of Broadway and the Garment District
- Making the exit right-turn only
- Providing more sidewalk-oriented outdoor seating options
We will continue to provide updates as we get more information.
Thank you to City Council members Jim Glover and Jan Marcason, who represent the 4th District, for standing up for our residents!