KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Steamboat Arabia Museum’s future is up in the air with its lease expiring in 2026. Now the city is looking for ways to repurpose the space.
The owners of the museum have been looking for a potential new location for several years, and so city leaders said they’re being proactive to make sure the space isn’t left vacant.
But Steamboat Arabia Museum co-owner David Hawley said although they’ve explored different locations, they no longer want to leave the City Market.
They even have a new redesigned plan that would make the space larger.
“It’ll be one of those kind of things that is a world class exhibit,” Hawley said, “something that will benefit Kansas City and make them another destination for folks to come and visit.”
Justin Cottrell with KC Commercial Realty Group said a committee oversees issues like leasing and long-term strategies for the area.
The committee has asked developers to submit ideas for how to redevelop the space. Cottrell said it’s part of their commitment to doing what’s best for the City Market.
“Taking this critical moment where there’s an expiration — can we reuse the space as is, can we do something more exciting and beneficial to the neighborhood and to the market? We’ll look at all those things as the oversight committee reviews the applicants,” he said.
The 30,000-square-foot museum showcases artifacts like clothing and weapons salvaged from the Arabia. It sank in the Missouri River in 1856. The museum has been located in the City Market since 1991.
Other potential developments could include space for parking or retail shops.
But Hawley hopes they’ll work out a solution that keeps the Steamboat Arabia Museum in place.
“People who come to this museum say every day, ‘Please don’t move. We come here with our guests from out of town. Our kids have seen it, our grandkids have seen this place. They’ve grown up with this place for the last 30 some years. We do not want to see you move,'” he said.
Hawley said if they don’t renew their lease, he’s not sure where the museum would go at this point.