KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some neighbors and preservationists are upset after the city council approved a plan to demolish historic buildings to make way for a parking lot.
Some neighbors in the Old Northeast are calling it a dangerous precedent.
The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences won approval to demolish five apartment buildings in a historic district as part of its campus expansion plan.
The site of the Colonial Court apartments will soon become a parking lot that the university says it needs. The medical school is building a $30-million surgical simulation center, which will eliminate some existing parking.
Some Northeast neighborhoods and preservationists are upset that the school bypassed the regular procedure of review by the Historic Preservation Commission.
“The Historic Kansas City Foundation fought and won a battle with developers in the Plaza because of the Midtown Plaza Plan,” explained Manny Abarca, a board member of the Historic Kansas City Foundation. “That plan now will be able to be overlooked and overreached by a developer who can come back and say, ‘Well KCU did it, why can’t we?'”
A lawyer for the school successfully argued that the city can waive the additional approvals normally required before buildings are demolished.
Those supporting the plan say the school is a strong anchor for the historic neighborhood, making a multi-million dollar investment that promises big benefits for the city.
Neighbors who support preservation efforts say they must be ready for the next developer who wants to tear down an old building that’s in their way without seeking historic review.