KANSAS CITY, Mo. — People around Kansas City are getting a chance to re-imagine the Country Club Plaza as a place that has much more room for people to walk.
A local volunteer group of urban enthusiasts called Urban Lab KC created a rendering and design for the Plaza with some streets closed to cars.
An Aug. 10 tweet from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas helped boost the image and the conversation it was trying to start even more.
The hope is that removing cars from at least some of the streets would make it a safer place for pedestrians and families.
“I think that would open up for different demographics, especially families with children,” Najma Muhammad said. “It’s extremely dangerous for small children, for strollers. As a driver, I’m very cautious of that.”
Similar projects in other communities make planners think more people spending more time in an area like County Club Plaza would also help cut down on negative experiences people have had there.
The new renderings from Urban Lab KC don’t have any official timeline or estimated cost because they were created by a group of people who started to get together over coffee to talk about how their community is designed.
“We’re literally just a bunch of people who love Kansas City,” Anthony Hugo, who handles the group’s communications duties, said.
They’ve created similar renderings and designs for other parts of Kansas City too, pointing out where they’d prefer to have features like bike lanes or traffic diverted in a different way.
“Visualizing it is something that really gets the public interested overall,” Hugo said.
The group has no financial stake in the designs it creates and makes public, removing questions about bias or attempts to influence that Muhammad says might pop up if a developer or other business entity created a rendering for a project.
“You know what is novel about this, and I give credit to this group right now, these are people who have no financial interest in the deal,” Mayor Lucas said.
It also means that Urban Lab KC can only suggest changes and has to rely on the city or Plaza ownership to implement them.
Lucas said any permanent changes could only happen after months of studies on economic impact, traffic and long conversations with residents, businesses and Plaza ownership itself.
Plaza ownership tells FOX4 it has no comment on this story.
But Lucas hinted that trial periods could happen much sooner.
The Plaza Art Fair at the end of September already closes down many of the roads around the Plaza and might offer a good jumping-off point to see what might happen if some of them just didn’t open back up again for a few extra days.
“Even just [to get] a feel of people out there, if you see a few more people walking down the street just enjoying the fact that they can,” Hugo said.