KC is planning for the future of Barney Allis Plaza and garage. Here’s what’s possible

·2 min read
Provided by the City of Kansas City, Missouri/cstark@kcstar.com

There’s a new plan to restore downtown’s Barney Allis Plaza and garage, at a cost of more than $112 million.

The new design, presented to a City Council committee last week, includes an oval lawn, a lawn terrace, an event plaza, a perimeter streetscape, and hotel access. Changes to the parking garage, which would allow for 600 parking spaces, are the most expensive piece at $46 million.

“We believe it’s a world class design comparable to some of the most amazing plazas across this country,” said. James Freed, the city’s architect.

The plaza and garage were built in 1954 and renovated in the 1980s. In 2020, after a large amount of debris fell on an unoccupied car, a consultant recommended the garage be closed because of continuing structural deterioration.

Freed said hundreds of areas of the structure below the second floor were hanging by latex paint.

Almost 70 years old, the garage is nearly twice past its expected lifespan of 35 years. Freed said the structure is currently stable but has seen “substantial” deterioration.

“It’s on life support,” he said.

The top two levels remain open.

Last spring, the council approved $1.3 million to get designs for the rebuild from McCownGordon Construction, paid for by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. That’s on top of the $3 million already spent on structure and life safety repairs for the garage, Freed said.

Concern about aging structures has increased since last June, when part of a 12-story condo building collapsed in Surfside, Florida leaving 98 people dead.

“No one expected the tower in Florida to collapse. They didn’t. It was a catastrophic failure. We have no reason to believe that the lower level of Barney Allis Plaza would have a significant failure,” Freed said.

So what’s next for this project?

The team will pursue a financing strategy and continue to work on design documents. The city’s finance director said there is potential for the city to partner with a private entity. The city will also identify a development partner and update the structural assessment on the garage, according to information presented to the committee Wednesday.

An ordinance is expected to come in the late spring before the council to approve the design and proposal. Construction should start in the fall of this year and it should open in the winter of 2024.