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RECONNECTING

COMPREHENSIVE VISION PLAN FOR GREEN + CIVIC SPACEs in GREATER downtown Kansas city


Comprehensive vision plan for

GREEN + CIVIC SPACES in Greater Downtown Kansas City, Missouri

KANSAS CITY DESIGN CENTER URBAN STUDIO 2012 The University of Kansas + Kansas State University


CONTENT

This studio publication, generated during the 2011-2012 academic year at the Kansas City Design Center, was written and designed by Nicole Kubas, Tiffany Cartwright, and Lauren Kelly, in collaboration with Vladimir Krstic, Studio Director and Instructor. This publication is not intended for retail sale and cannot be sold, duplicated, or published electronically or otherwise without the express written consent of the College of Architecture, Planning & Design at Kansas State University. The purpose of this publication is academic in nature and is intended to showcase the research, scholarship, and design work of the students of the College of Architecture, Planning & Design.


foreword Green + Civic Spaces

Research + Analysis KESSLER PARK SYSTEM Parks + Civic Spaces Physical Conditions

Comprehensive Vision Plan

VISION PLAN INTENTIONS Anchor Parks Corridors Infill Parks

Design propositions

Anchor Parks: Washington Square + Rail Park Corridors: Beardsley Road-Third StreeT Infill Parks: 17th Street + Grand Boulevard Infill Parks: 10th Street + Cherry Street CLOSING THOUGHTS

REFERENCES

city projects References ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


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Research + Analysis


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FoREwoRD This publication is an account of a yearlong study focused on rethinking the way in which a city can be reconstituted into an organized urban whole through a system of green and civic spaces. Fundamental to this was a question what constitutes public realm of the city and how it can be organically reconfigured to ingrain itself as an indelible part of the city form and life experience. The project was originally conceived in collaboration with the Kansas City Downtown Council Green Space Committee and subsequently funded and executed through the support of the city PIAC funds and in cooperation with the Parks and Recreation Department of KCMO. The specific purpose of the project was to create a comprehensive vision plan for green and civic space in the downtown KCMO area building on the work of the Green Space Committee and aligning it with the Greater Downtown Area Plan guiding document and related ongoing urban improvement projects. In doing so we have tried to create a compelling perspective that is both rooted in an understanding of the place and its circumstances as well as the study of advanced contemporary practices. Our intention was to offer a constructive vision that exceeds normative typology and recasts the city in an integrated view laden with forwardthinking possibilities to enhance its character and livability through green and civic space design. We hope that the project and this publication as its comprehensive record will be used to that effect. All materials included in this publication, including writings and photographs, have been authored by KCDC urban design studio members. I am deeply indebted to the former studio members Tiffany Cartwright, Nicole Kubas, and Lauren Kelly, who have worked long hours to organize and edit the publication materials, design and lay out the book and see that its quality be sustained through all instances of the publication preparation. They have done a great service to the project stakeholders, Kansas City Design Center and their studio classmates. Thank you. Vladimir Krstic


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“Public spaces are open to all, regardless of ethnic origin, age, or gender, and as such they represent a democratic forum for citizens and society. When properly designed and cared for, they bring communities together, provide meeting places and foster social ties of a kind that have been disappearing in many urban areas. These spaces shape the cultural identity of an area, are part of its unique character and provide a sense of place for local communities.� 1


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GREEN + CIVIC SPACES Green and civic spaces are a significant factor in the livability of any city. The intention of this project is to rethink, reconsider, and re-envision the idea and definitions of those spaces and their relationship. The plan aims to provide a constructive vision for an ordered and related system of urban spaces that will enhance functional and spatial cohesion of the downtown area and serve as an instrument for qualitative change and development within the Greater Downtown Area of Kansas City. The following publication is organized into three main sections; research and analysis, comprehensive vision plan, and design propositions. The research and analysis begins with a detailed look into the historical heritage of Kansas City and the current physical conditions of the green and civic spaces within the downtown. Establishing these situations identified a need to redefine the relations of the parks to one another and their connectedness. The vision plan outlines the concept for a cohesive system composed of three distinct elements. A detailed look at each of these individual project types is illustrated within the design propositions.


RESEARCH + ANALYSIS


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Research + Analysis


Research + Analysis

KESSlER PARK SyStEm The 1893 Kessler Plan, created by George Kessler, represents the most significant artefact and an urban idea that defined the character of Kansas City. The plan served as a grand civic vision which is a necessary reference for the examination of the current order of the city’s urban environment. The Kessler Plan was the first plan for a network of green spaces in Kansas City. Prior to the implementation of this plan, Kansas City developed in a haphazard manner with little consideration for future growth. By creating a system of parks, he aimed to improve the quality of life of the citizens, create an attachment to the city as a place, promote civic pride, and increase the city’s economic vitality and growth of population. Kessler wanted to “blend the artificial structure of the city with the natural beauty of its site, and at the same time would supply recreation-grounds”.2 The plan addressed a way to exhibit the natural, dramatic topography and beauty of the area as an amenity around which to develop a series of parks and boulevards that would serve the city’s inhabitants.

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12 Research + Analysis

KESSLER 1893


Research + Analysis

Through park planning, Kessler zoned the city into residential, trade, and industrial functional uses to stabilize and guide city development.3 Kessler intended to tame the volatility of informal settlements through parks and stabilize residential land values by preserving the natural beauty of Kansas City. Kessler’s system of parks and boulevards united formerly segregated sections of Kansas City and continues to shape the land use pattern surrounding the park system today.

Five Photographs: Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri.

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14 Research + Analysis

KESSLER 1900

KESSLER 1915

KESSLER 1940

As the city has continued to develop, much of Kessler’s original park system has became fragmented as various highways have been built running through the downtown. Kessler’s plan was designed in a time when motorized transportation was leisurely and conceived very differently from today. Although it is still a significant artefact, changes due to the automobile have compromised the plan’s ability to define the order of the city. While some of Kessler’s original parks still remain, due to this fragmentation the parks no longer relate to one another or create a coherent order of connected green and civic spaces in the Greater Downtown Area.

KESSLER 1960


Research + Analysis

KESSLER 2011

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Research + Analysis


Research + Analysis

PARK + CIVIC SPACES In order to create a comprehensive vision plan for the Greater Downtown Area, research and analysis was completed to determine how the current parks and civic spaces are serving Kansas City. The current system of public space is comprised of parks, boulevards, trails, and civic spaces. Establishing the individual parts of the system, allowed the existing conditions to be better evaluated. Analysis concluded that these elements have become fragmented and do not currently function as a cohesive system. As the use of automobile has changed over time, Kessler’s boulevards no longer fully serve their primary purpose as green connectors between the parks. While significant efforts have been made to establish a comprehensive system of trails within the downtown, the system is not yet complete. The complete set of findings were then aligned with existing urban development plans; the historic Kessler Plan and the current plan to re-envision the public space within the city, the Greater Downtown Area Plan (GDAP). These plans embody several urban principals that should be adopted in order to create a successful comprehensive system of public space.

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18 Research + Analysis

Parks Gardens Trails + Boulevards Civic Spaces

Composite of the green spaces, trails, boulevards, and civic spaces in the Greater Downtown Area.


Research + Analysis

A significant urban principal common to both the Kessler Plan and the GDAP is the understanding that the city is composed of a system of related elements. Kessler proposed a system of parks and boulevards, while the more recent GDAP emphasizes a system of corridors and activity nodes. Unlike an interlaced, nonhierarchial grid, both of these cohesive systems of parts provide order to the city. The idea of public space is more than just a system of parts. The interconnectivity between each element of the system is equally critical for the improvement of the urban environment. “Public streets and outdoor spaces play an integral role in stitching together the urban fabric. When the urban environment has a high level of connectivity and spatial definition, people will be naturally drawn to it.”4 This connectivity and activated spatial realm are both directly achievable through a well designed system of parks and civic spaces. This system will serve as an amenity for the city, enhancing the livability downtown. In order to address project issues it is necessary to explore ideas and concepts that define notions of green and civic space. Parks are defined as, ”enclosed areas for public recreation, usually large and ornamentally landscaped area especially in or adjoining a city.”5 Civic spaces are “areas of or pertaining to the city or citizenship or being proper to a citizen.”6 Together these spaces make up the public realm.

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20 Research + Analysis

GREEN SPACES

BOULEVARDS

TRAILS


Research + Analysis

By providing a setting in which urban life can take place and the city’s identity can develop, the civic framework serves to improve the quality of the built environment.

“The civic framework establishes the structure within which urban life takes place, and it offers the single strongest opportunity to create a distinctive identity that cannot be matched in the outlying suburban districts.�7

CIVIC SPACES

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Park Civic Spaces

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20 21 23 22 25

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PARKS + CIVIC SPACES

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PARK KEY 1. Richard L. Berkley Park 2. Garrison Square Park 3. Riverbluff Park 4. City Market and City Market Park 5. Columbus Square Park 6. Belvidere Park 7. Case Park (West Terrace Park) 8. Garment District Park 9. Admiral Plaza 10. Ilus W. Davis Park and Courthouse Plaza 11. Margaret Kemp Park 12. Paseo Boulevard 13. Mulkey Square Park (West Terrace Park) 14. Barney Allis Plaza 15. Oppenstein Brothers Park 16. Kansas City Plaza 17. Andrew Dripps Park (West Terrace Park) 18. Jarboe Park (West Terrace Park) 19. Parade Park 20. Observation Park 21. Gage Park 22. Triangle Park 23. Washington Square Park 24. Hospital Hill Park 25. Liberty Memorial Park 26. Longfellow Park 27. Shelia Kemper Dietrich Park 28. Penn Valley Park 29. Troost Lake Park 30. Troost Park 31. Family Justice Center 32. Crown Center Plaza


Research + Analysis

PARK + CIVIC SPACE INVENtoRy In order to contextually analyze and order every park and civic space within the downtown, a system of categorization was developed. Each space was categorized as a regional, city, or neighborhood park or civic space based on its use, connectivity, and area served. Once these contextual categories were established, an individual analysis of each space identified the positive and negative attributes within the system.

REGIONAL

CITY

NEIGHBORHOOD

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UND

REGIONAL Liberty Memorial Location: 31st &Broadway Program: Active &Passive Scale: Regional Park Maintenace: Parks & Rec

Penn Valley Park Location: 31st & Wyandotte Program: Active & Passive Scale: Regional Park Maintenace: Parks & Rec

STREETS

PENN VALLEY PARK FIGURE GROUND

BARRIERS

CONNECTIVITY

PENN VALLEY PARK ADJACENT STREETS

PENN VALLEY PARK SURROUNDING BARRIERS


Research + Analysis

REgionAL: PEnn vALLEY PARK

VITY

PENN VALLEY PARK REGIONAL CONNECTIVITY

This analysis of Penn Valley Park represents an example of the inventory completed for every park. The views, amenities, current park improvements, and Memorial Hill were found to be the most positive attributes of Penn Valley. The location and adjacent civic functions of Union Station and Crown Center present a strong potential, if capitalized on, to become positive attributes. The drastic topography, barriers created by major roads, lack of pedestrian access and circulation, and absence of surrounding development providing eyes on the park, were found to be Penn Valley’s most negative attributes in need of improvement.

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Allis Plaza 26 Barney Location: 12th & Wyandotte Scale: City Space Maintenance:Other

BARNEY ALLIS PLAZA FIGURE GROUND

City Market Location: 3rd & Walnut Scale: City Space Maintenance:Other

BARNEY ALLIS PLAZA ADJACENT STREETS

Court House Location: 12th & Locust Scale: City Space Maintenace: Other

Crown Center Plaza Location: Grand Blv & Pershing Rd Scale: City Space Maintenace: Other

BARNEY ALLIS PLAZA SURROUNDING BARRIERS


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CiviC : BARnEY ALLiS PLAZA

BARNEY ALLIS PLAZA CITY CONNECTIVITY

Barney Allis Plaza serves to represent the analysis also completed for every civic space within the downtown. Due to the raised nature of Barney Allis, the plaza lacks a strong physical and visual connection with the street on three sides. The cafe building, trellis, fountain, and ample seating serve as great amenities for the space but are under-utilized due to the plaza’s overall lack of identity. The location and adjacency to Memorial Auditorium and the Convention Center provide the potential for Barney Allis to become a very active space.


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FIGURE GROUND

STREETS

BARRIERS

CONNECTIVITY

REgionAL

CiTY

BERKLEY RIVERFRONT PARK

BARNEY ALLIS PLAZA

PENN VALLEY PARK

CASE PARK

CITY MARKET CITY MARKET PARK

COURTHOUSE + FEDERAL BLDG PLAZAS


Research + Analysis

CROWN CENTER PLAZA

FAMILY JUSTICE CENTER

HOSPITAL HILL

OPPENSTEIN ILUS W. DAVIS MULKEY SQUARE PARK PLAZA PARK

PARADE PARK

WASHINGTON SQAURE PARK

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30 Research + Analysis

nEighBoRhood ADMIRAL PLAZA

BELVIDERE PARK

COLUMBUS SQUARE

GAGE PARK

GARRISON SQUARE

HOSPITAL HILL PARK

JARBOE PARK

KANSAS CITY PLAZA


Research + Analysis

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PoCKET MARGARET KEMPER PARK

OBSERVATION OPPENSTEIN PARK BROTHERS PARK

SHELIA WESTERN KEMPER AUTO PARK DETRICH PARK

ANDREW DRIPPS PARK

GARMENT DISTRICT PARK

LONGFELLOW TRIANGLE PARK PARK


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Research + Analysis 1. BARNEY ALLLIS PLAZA

2. BERKLEY RIVERFRONT PARK

PARK SECtIoNS

3. CASE PARK

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4. HOLLAND PARK

4 5. HOSPITAL HILL PARK

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6. LIBERTY MEMORIAL

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8 7. MARGARET KEMP PARK

8. MULKEY SQUARE PARK

9. PENN VALLEY PARK

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10. TROOST LAKE PARK

11. RIVERFRONT TRAIL

12. RIVERBLUFF PARK

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RESIDENTIAL

COMMERCIAL

INDUSTRIAL

FREQ. OF USE + RESIDENTIAL

FREQ. OF USE + COMMERCIAL

FREQ. OF USE + INDUSTRIAL


Research + Analysis

FREquENCy oF uSE Analyzing various urban use populations identified where people live, work, and shop within the downtown. In order to evaluate the need for public space, these populations were overlaid with the current park system. Determining where people spend the majority of their time downtown, exposed the areas with the highest need for public space. Determining the need for and over-abundance of park land will allow the disproportionate ratio of public space to become more balanced. The urban use populations were also overlaid with all of the parks within the Greater Downtown Area ranked according to their usage to identify a connection between the activities of people downtown and park usage. It was assumed that areas with the highest residential populations would have the greatest park usage but this proved to not be true in all cases. Analyzing the population and use patterns also helped to guide the individual park and civic space programming.

“Park, it is the creature of its surroundings and of the way its surroundings generate mutual support from diverse uses, or fail to generate such support.� 8

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Research + Analysis


Research + Analysis

PhySICAl CoNDItIoNS Green and civic spaces are a vital element of the physical form of Kansas City. Their character is determined by how they exist in relation to the city’s topography and morphology. The physical conditions that affect the park system were defined to discover how the elements relate to one another. This also identified how the city has formed over time to create the spaces which make up system. Sections through the city examined the relationship between the existing green and civic spaces and the city’s topography. The vegetation, topography, figure ground and streets established the base situations after being overlaid with the parks system. Analyzing the watersheds and sewer system identified the potential for a public space system with a sustainable infrastructure function. The inventory of parking lots and examination of right-ofway space was crucial in determining land which could be repurposed to better serve the city. The land use, zoning, and city projects provided information on existing and future development and guided design decisions.

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38 Research + Analysis The views from atop Memorial Hill offer a strong visual connection to the Performing Arts Center and the Convention Center on account of Kansas City’s dramatic topography.

Looking from West Terrace Park to Ilus W. Davis Park shows the lack of green space within the Downtown Loop and the absence of a green east/west connection.

The

Paseo

Boulevard

creates

a

strong north/south connection between Kessler Park and The Parade Park while providing ample green space.


Research + Analysis

CIty SECtIoNS

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Capturing the relationship between the built environment and the topography of Kansas City through vertical sections, informed how Kansas City developed in the landscape. The city and the parks formed in intriguing ways. The points of the city that were iconic, both built and natural were not accidentally selected. The Greater Downtown is situated on two hills, with a valley between them. The Loop, including the Central Business District, rests on the northern hill while Crown Center sits on the southern hill. Historically, the valley running through the two major commerce locations enabled the railroad lines to easily enter the most dense area of the city. Today, this topography allows a strong visual connection between the two destinations which represents a great potential on which to capitalize.


Research + Analysis

Upon examining the city’s topography and development, it is evident that the parkland acquired by Kessler was leftover, undevelopable land. This attribute is currently a hindrance to the park system but has the potential to become an asset which ties to the parks to the character of the city. Due to their original design catered to the automobile, many of the parks are inaccessible, which is worsened by the extreme topography. However, this topography creates excellent views of the city from Kessler’s original parks, as well as views of landscape in which the city sits. In addition to design issues and potential, investigation of the topography identified significant areas of the city which lack an adequate amount of public space or are void of a functioning connection between the existing green and civic spaces.

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42 Research + Analysis


Research + Analysis

PARKS + TOPOGRAPHY

PARKS + FIGURE GROUND

PARKS + STREETS

Vertical sections revealed separation between the built environment and the natural environment. Further study of infrared technology revealed the urban core had virtually no green space, public or private. Analyzing distribution of public green space within the Greater Downtown Area of Kansas City affirmed that parkland is inadequately distributed. A shortage of green space in the urban core burdens the city’s infrastructure and contributes to the negative heat island effect.

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Research + Analysis

WATERSHEDS + SEWER SYSTEM

PARKS + SEWER SYSTEM


Research + Analysis

SuStAINAbIlIty Parks and civic spaces should be flexible spaces which serve more than one purpose. One of the major functions of public space should be to act as an infrastructural element. In order to understand this capacity to function as infrastructure, the sewer system was superimposed on the watersheds and park system. This analysis uncovered the potential opportunities for the parks and civic space within the downtown to improve the city’s sustainability. Kansas City relies on a combined sewer system, which collects the city’s storm-water run-off, industrial waste, and human sewage in the same pipes. This out-dated system has become overburdened and is currently presenting the city with flooding issues. In addition to flooding, the system discharges over 6.4 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into area streams and rivers annually.9

As the world exhausts its vital resources, parks and public space need to be examined for functionality and ability to improve the environment of the city.

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46 Research + Analysis


Research + Analysis

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PARKING LOTS

VACANT LOTS

VACANT + PARKING LOTS


Research + Analysis

UnderUtilized Land An unintended consequence of the superhighway movement in America was the realization that personal vehicles must have a place to park. The mindset of those in Kansas City is such that driving has displaced walking as the major mode of transportation. Convenient parking is desired everywhere, requiring large storage spaces which are most often surface parking lots, the easiest and cheapest method of accommodating automobiles. “A major change takes place in downtowns throughout America at a morphological level: fields of parking, with object-buildings and/or fragments of urban fabric sitting on them become the dominant landscape.�10 More than twenty percent of the land cover in downtown Kansas City is made up of offstreet parking, this does not include on-street parking or underground parking garages.

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Text

RIGHT-OF-WAY + PARKS

RIGHT-OF-WAY

“Adaptively reusing this waste landscape figures to be one of the twenty-first century’s great infrastructural challenges as these sites are potentially transformable into new productive uses such as permanent open landscapes or infill developments.” 11


Waste landscapes are places that people often overlook, driving through without recognizing the potential of the space. Most appear unoccupiable, servicing as barriers to divide up cities. Thus, the cities become sections, fragmenting what should be a cohesive whole. An analysis of the parking lots, vacant lots, and right-ofways, showed that in comparison to the amount of green space, wasted space is far more abundant throughout the downtown. Kansas City’s haphazard development and excess of wasted space has been caused by the city’s suburban sprawl. This unsustainable method of development must be addressed for the future success of the city. “Future infill and growth depend on salvaging and reimagining the collective body of in-between landscapes.”12 There should be an evaluation of how land use could be made stronger to better serve a denser city. Some of Kansas City’s wasted spaces have the most unique character within downtown and the potential to become public spaces which will promote socialization, recreation, and sustainability. These underpass spaces, highway right-ofways, and abandoned parking lots have the ability to become infrastructural parks and meaningful civic spaces.


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MAP OF PROPOSED + ONGOING URBAN IMRPROVEMENT PROJECTS

CITY PROJECTS 1. Berkley Riverfront Redevelopment 2. Columbus Square Park 3. Case Park (West Terrace Park) 4. 12th St. Viaduct Improvements 5. Main Street Streetcar 6. Grand Blvd. Improvement Project 7. Capping of I-670 8. 17th Street 9. West Pennway Streetscape Plan 10. 20th St. Streetscape Plan 11. 18th Street 12. Penn Valley Park


Research + Analysis

CITY PROJECTS In order to create a thorough understanding of the situation that bears on the development of any comprehensive plan, all proposed and currently ongoing projects within downtown Kansas City were studied and taken into consideration. The projects with the most impact to the Comprehensive Vision Plan are described in full detail at the of this publication: the Main St. Streetcar Project, Grand Boulevard Improvment Project, 20th St. Streetscape Plan, and West Pennway Streetscape Plan.

Examining the current land use and zoning identified where various activities occur, or are allowed to occur, within the downtown. Foreseeing the possibilities of types of future development aided in the planning of the current parks and civic space system.

ZONING

LAND USE

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RECONNECTING: Part 1  

Comprehensive Vision Plan for Green + Civc Spaces in Greater Downtown Kansas City, MO

RECONNECTING: Part 1  

Comprehensive Vision Plan for Green + Civc Spaces in Greater Downtown Kansas City, MO

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