Crossroads StudyJulia Voigt
By Julia Voigt
In the fall of 2018, DRAW was tasked by the Crossroads Community Association with compiling an assessment of the Crossroad neighborhood’s existing building stock as relating to the recommended City building height standards. Bounded by Truman Road, the railroad tracks, and highways I-35 and I-71, the Crossroads is a robust and burgeoning arts district within Kansas City. Boasting an array of galleries, studios, restaurants, tech start-ups, and small businesses, it is currently witnessing a variety of new construction projects, the Artistry development at 19th and Oak – on which DRAW was the lead Architect – being one. But while the neighborhood has developed steadily over the past 10 years, the study noted the profusion of undeveloped/vacant lots throughout the neighborhood. Also noted in the study was the lack of build-up of the existing building stock, the general height of which is well below the allowable built.
The existing condition of the Crossroads posits an opportunity for urban infill development. Ample surface parking lots allow for immediate opportunities for vertical infill. The present building stock can be renovated to accommodate diverse uses while maintaining the industrial character unique to the neighborhood. The building height standards, suggested in the Greater Downtown Area Plan (2010), recommend heights that respond to the protected view between the World War I Memorial and Downtown. The Crossroads, however, sits in a topographical depression, and as such, developing the area that meets the recommended maximum heights predominantly maintains this view.
Developing urban infill requires careful consideration. Oftentimes, a higher efficiency corresponds to concentrated density, especially when related to infrastructure and amenities. Development boosts the tax base, and revitalization of existing buildings provides a safe and lively physical environment. It also makes best use of existing infrastructure and creates more opportunities for transportation options and connectivity. At the same time, successful development can – without regulation – incur higher living costs, and construction can disrupt the goings-on of both residents and visitors. As such, all effects of development must be carefully studied and analyzed in order to gain the best results for all stakeholders involved – City officials, developers, business owners, and residents. Alongside our neighbors in the Crossroads, DRAW is eager to see what the future holds for this fantastic neighborhood.
new building on open space