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Kansas City Council Approves 'Plaza Bowl' Rules To Keep Short Buildings In The Center

Kevin Collison
CityScene KC
Late last year, a plan to demolish the Church of Christ Scientist and replace it with a 12-story tower sparked conversations about building heights on the Plaza. On Thursday, the city council moved to make those recommendations mandatory.

The Kansas City Council on Thursday fast-tracked a proposal to enact height restrictions on the Country Club Plaza.

The new rules, approved unanimously by the council, would limit building heights to 45 feet in certain parts of the Plaza as part of the “bowl” plan that designates shorter buildings in the center of the entertainment district and taller ones on the edges. Before, such restrictions were only recommended.

The Kansas City Plan Commission unanimously rejected the proposal last week, but committee members on Wednesday voted to move it to the full City Council for debate.

Supporters testified for more than three hours at a public hearing Wednesday. Supporters said the plan preserves the long-term vision of the historic shopping district.

“This will ... really send the message that we want to protect the Plaza for the long term, have the right kind of development, and keep it a crown jewel that it is for decades to come,” said Councilman Scott Taylor.   

The ordinance is primarily opposed by property owners in the area, who argue that the plan will arbitrarily devalue some properties and not others.

Conversations about the Plaza Bowl plan sparked in December with the introduction of a plan to demolish the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist on 47th and Pennsylvania and replace it with a 12-story apartment building. 

The city council can vote to make exceptions to the building height rule, so the project could still move forward. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed Councilman Scott Taylor's statement. 

Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig.

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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