Iron District, food and retail park made of shipping containers, coming to North KC in September

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new food and retail park is coming to the Northland, and it’s made entirely of shipping containers.

The cluster of shipping containers are starting to take shape near the corner of 16th Avenue and Iron Street in North Kansas City. Developers of the project are calling it Iron District.

“There’s 18 shipping containers on site,” developer Rachel Kennedy said. “I’m really big into re-purposing items, and [a container] is so similar to the food truck that I used to run, with its rectangular shape, that I thought, 'Why not make little mini kitchens and open the concept to food and retail vendors who want to give it a go?'”

Seven food vendors and an ice cream shop have already signed on to the project, which has been in the works for two years.

“We’re literally 5 minutes from downtown. Parking is a lot easier here than downtown, and it’s just such a booming place with Chicken and Pickle down the street, and they’re doing a ton of stuff down on 16th,” Kennedy said.

The vendors include Kind Food KC, Morning Day Café, Urban Café, Avobite, B-Rad’s, Plantain District, Safe Bakes and Ice Cream Bae.

“Coming from the food truck community, nothing was better than feeding people,” said Kennedy, who owns Plantain District.

Four retailers, including a clothing and holistic shop, a bar called Tiki Huna, a stage for live music and a large courtyard will also be featured at Iron District.

“We basically think of ourselves as an incubator,” Kennedy said. “This is kind of a test kitchen for everyone, so people can come in, test it out, get their feet wet, see how it is to run a business.”

Phillip Jones is the chef and owner of Kind Food KC, a plant-based eatery. Jones, who’s been in the food industry for 25 years, said he’s excited about running his business out of the space because it’s not as risky.

“It’s more of a low-entry point,” Jones said. “It’s affordable compared to your own brick and mortar or business. I mean, when people just start up from scratch, you just see them fail.”

Vendors and retailers sign short-term leases. They have the option to leave or resign after each season.

“If they do so well that they’re ready for their next location, then even better because that means they actually proved their concept,” Kennedy said.

One of the 18 containers on site will be available for groups or parties to rent by the hour. The park will be open for lunch throughout the week with extended hours on the weekends.

Iron District is expected to open sometime in September.

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