After considerable community engagement and input, the Kansas City Council voted to proceed with a plan that makes considerable streetscape design improvements in the Historic Jazz District.  

The plan includes new lighting, sidewalk amenities, park-like features and lighting along 17th , 18th and 19th, Woodland, Highland and Vine.  However, a major focus of the redesign is the transition of 18th Street between Woodland and Vine into a pedestrian mall.  

The idea is to decrease the number of cars in the area and increase the number of pedestrians.  

To accommodate the pedestrians, the plan eliminates parking along Vine and makes the area part of a 25-foot-wide sidewalk.  Curbs will be eliminated creating a single surface.  

Traffic would still be one lane going in each direction, but attractive gate features are planned at Vine and Woodland that can easily be used to close off the street.  The road is often closed off for community events, including Juneteenth, 816 Day and First Friday gatherings.  

A small public square is planned for performances next to the Gem at 18th and Highland.  The historic Boone Theater, one block east of the Gem, proposed an outside performance area as part of their renovation project that isI currently underway.  

“I’m glad that we’re moving in a direction that really lets the community have a gathering space,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas ahead of the vote.  

Funding for the project was made possible thanks to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver who secured $4 million in Housing and Urban Development funding for the project.  So far, the City has authorized the use of  $1.5 million in Tax Increment Financing Funds for the project.  

The Council also entered into a $1.184 million for local firm Taliaferro & Browne, to complete the design of the Pedestrian Mall, which is the first phase of the project.  The second phase calls for the improvement of 17th Terrace from Paseo to Highland.  

For those worried about the loss of parking on 18th Street, the plan calls for relocating the parking to 17th Terrace for a “net zero” parking loss. 

The work on 18th and 17th is fully funded.  Since funding for the streetscape improvements proposed for the rest of the district isn’t secured, Taliaferro & Brown’s contract only authorizes partial design on the balance of the improvements. 

Improvements along 18th and 17th have been funded and work should begin in 2024. Funding still needs to be secured for improvements phases of the project.

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...