KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of Kansas City, Missouri’s most historic communities will finally get an upgrade that’s been talked about for a long time.

Planners are figuring out how to turn East 18th Street between the Paseo and Woodland Avenue into a Pedestrian Plaza.

It would remove the sidewalk curbs, making the street and walkways the same level, while drastically expanding how much space is dedicated to pedestrians.

The details aren’t finalized, but BikeWalkKC Policy Director Michael Kelley says parking will likely be moved to other locations, allowing for only one lane of traffic in each direction on the street.

Additional seating and barriers would make it easy to close 18th Street for special events.

“We’ve got a lot of things to give Kansas City and Kansas City’s been missing out all this time by not using what they have down here,” said Henry C. Service, who owns the historic Lincoln Building on the corner of 18th and Vine.

That’s why he supports the project, which is generally credited with bringing more foot traffic and commerce to businesses near where similar projects are installed.

Four million dollars of federal money, secured by Representative Emanual Cleaver in the year-end spending bill at the end of 2022, will be matched by at least $2.5 million in city funds to plan and build the concept.

“It contributes to our efforts to not only make our streets safer, but in working to invest in places like 18th and Vine, we can also begin to realize some of the long-standing economic potential it has,” Kelley said.

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Kelley says projects like these often result in more jobs nearby and can help make new residential construction projects more desirable.

“It really does create more of a family atmosphere which will invite more people to come and participate,” Kelley said. “This is something that we see continuously in places like Europe, but also in places like Bogota, Columbia, in places like Uganda, where they have also begun to invest in walking and biking infrastructure as well.”

Planning is expected to take much of 2023 with construction potentially coming next year.

“I’m hoping everyone’s going to say, ‘Where was this all of the time,” Service said.

KCATA says they already have detours in place when 18th Street is closed for other special events.