UMKC Hosts Listening Sessions For Upcoming Oak Street Development Plan

Cristian Martinez, Sports Editor

Throughout the presentations and questions, UMKC’s Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Sean Reeder used one phrase to describe the Oak Street and 51st Street development project. 

  “A gateway to the campus,” Reeder said. 

  On June 27, members from UMKC hosted two listening sessions that touched on the latest development plan for the cross streets.

  The first event hosted students and faculty members from around campus, while the second included only community members who live around the area. 

  Attendees learned about what would occupy the roughly 5.8 acres of land, which includes the arena that would host the Kansas City Roos men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball teams. 

  Documents were passed to attendees that showed the university’s vision for the project aside from the small arena. UMKC wants a concept that “creates active building edges and ground floor retail,” and “consider an entry plaza/public space at the southwest corner with high-quality landscape for outdoor gathering, and casual seating.”

  Listeners had the chance to express ideas and opinions on multiple factors of the project.  Some folks also hinted at having students play a key role in the development. 

  The demolition of the Colonial Shops, if the ambitious project will be profitable, and how parking would work were the three main concerns that people shared. 

  UMKC members running the sessions stated that the development team would be responsible for the parking situation. However, there were mentions of making the first floor of the Oak Street parking garage available to those using the streetcar. 

  Some community members want the Colonial Shops, built by J.C. Nichols, to be a part of the development due to its historical relevance to the area.

  Many people discussed how crucial the new arena could be to creating a more major league college sports experience for students. A neighbor of the area stated, “It’s good to see that [Kansas City Athletics] may have a home.”

  There were multiple comments made about bringing in other major sporting events to UMKC. Some suggestions included hosting the Kansas City Mavericks or installing an ice rink. Many participants added that the arena could be home to tournaments that involve the NAIA, Big 12 women’s basketball and even the Summit League.

  Amenities dominated most of the conversations. There was a consensus that local businesses should occupy the spaces available on the ground floor. Some want to see a bowling alley or a movie theater that would not only provide entertainment for students but also reel in Kansas Citians. 

  Even the design of the buildings themselves was a talking point. Locals don’t want to see the project turn into Country Club Plaza 2.0 or become a generic college town. One person simply said, “It has to scream UMKC.”

  With so many ideas tossed around, the deadline for the Request for Proposal submission looms, as July 21 is the final day they can be turned in. However, the process will take place all throughout the fall, which includes interviews in August. On the official development timeline, the post-selection process lists multiple key events, including negotiation and design. 

If students, staff members or citizens would like to submit their own comments or ideas about the project, email [email protected].

[email protected]