UMKC Accepting Proposals for Destination Development Near Streetcar Stop

Projects could include a mix of retail, housing and a small arena for community events, concerts and UMKC Division I athletics
Fields near future streetcar stop at UMKC

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to develop a five-acre parcel of land next to the south terminus of the Kansas City Streetcar at 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard. The streetcar stop is expected to be operational in 2025.

In his recent State of the University address, UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal announced his intention to explore options to develop that parcel into a campus and community destination. The project could include a mix of retail, housing and a small arena perfect for campus and community events, concerts and, of course, UMKC Division I athletics, including basketball and volleyball.

“A destination development at the southern terminus of the streetcar is an appropriate addition to the community by UMKC, Kansas City’s university,” Agrawal said. “The development from this RFP will elevate the area for our city, our neighbors and our campus community.”

The university has two plots of land between Brookside and Oak Street, vacant except for a parking garage. The goal is to integrate the existing parking structure into whatever new development might be envisioned. UMKC plans to open the garage to public use when the streetcar stop opens in 2025 and will build a pedestrian walkway from the streetcar stop to the parking garage.

In addition to seeking a development that could include retail, housing and arena amenities, UMKC envisions this project as a highly visible gateway to the UMKC campus from the west. The deadline for proposals is Friday, July 21.

The RFP presents an evolution of the university’s 2021 Master Plan, which initially called for development of student housing on the site. Based on decreased demand for on-campus housing and the imminent opening of a new streetcar stop, the priority has shifted to increased space for campus and community amenities to enhance the student life experience on campus and to further engage with the broader Kansas City community.

The site, next to the streetcar terminus, has the potential to become a multi-modal transit hub. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is conducting a comprehensive redesign of its transit service, which will include stops on the Main and Troost MAX lines every 15 minutes. The Troost MAX provides the most direct connection between the UMKC Volker Campus and downtown Kansas City.

To create this project, UMKC would provide a ground lease to the developer and then would lease back the arena to meet its athletics and event needs, while allowing the developer to use the facility for other programs and events during available times. A shared operating agreement between UMKC and the developer will govern use of the facility.

The UMKC Division I Athletics program anticipates that the arena would be home to Kansas City Roos basketball and volleyball. That means 40-45 home games per season, plus 550 practice sessions per season. The university’s existing athletics and recreation facility, Swinney Center, currently supports the Division I programs as well as campus recreation. A new arena with expanded seating capacity and more training space is expected to provide a significant boost to UMKC Athletics’ fan experience and would aid in recruiting outstanding student athletes.

Published: May 15, 2023