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JoCo Board of County Commissioners Give King Louie The Green Light

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday narrowly approved a plan to repurpose the1960s-eraKing Louie building in Overland Park, Kan. as the county’s new Arts & Heritage Center.

The vote was 4-3.

In 2011, the county purchased King Louie — a former bowling alley and ice rink – as an expanded location for the Johnson County Museum. A National Museum of Suburbia was also expected to share the building, but that was an idea that didn't take off. 

About two dozen people showed up Thursday to voice support – and dissent – for funding the new use for the property. Discussion continued for over an hour and chairman Ed Eilert’s vote broke the tie.

"I’m very supportive of this resolution, and moving forward, in a cooperative effort with both the museum and Johnson County Parks and Recreation," said Eilert. 

Plans now call for re-locating the Johnson County Museum, and its 1950s All-Electric House, from Shawnee, Kan., to the old King Louie. Johnson County Parks and Recreation District plans to expand programming, with camps, classes, and productions, including year-round performances of Theatre in the Park

The county's election office will also use the building for advance voting and election worker training.

The Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center is slated to open in 2017, and it's expected to cost $22 million, before interest. 

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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