Crossroads Arts District: Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri's Crossroads Arts District is a vibrant hub of creativity and entrepreneurship. The Crossroads is home to hundreds of art-focused entities and tech startups that traverse all disciplines.
Kansas City's Crossroads area is located south of downtown between 22nd Street and Oak Street.
The Crossroads is best known for its arts and entertainment culture — from the upscale to the extreme, visitors will find an array of artistic expression within a few walkable blocks. The iconic Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is set in the northwest corner of the arts district. The center showcases a variety of performances including symphonies, operas, ballets, and concerts in addition to comedians, special guest speakers, and conferences. The Crossroads also hosts a First Friday event each month which gathers the community together in celebration of local artists, art organizations, and local businesses.
In 2012, Kansas City was the first metro area to receive Google Fiber. This citywide initiative has jump-started the connection of residents and business with high-speed web services and tech collaborations that have flourished in the Crossroads. Because of its central location, the Crossroads has attracted many technology companies, which have created jobs and bolstered economic development in Kansas City and the surrounding region.
The Crossroads Arts District offers a variety of free or affordable transportation options. Public bus transit services the Crossroads Arts District, and a modern streetcar line is scheduled to open in 2016. Bikes and pedestrian paths are also well planned for in the arts district. B-cycle Stations located in the Crossroads Arts District, and throughout Kansas City, have increased accessibility and have helped to change the face of urban transportation — without the environmental cost of other fossil-fuel run options.
Many buildings within the arts district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Defining Characteristics, Features
The Crossroads merges creativity, technology, and heritage into a melting pot of economic development. The district continues to thrive in large part because of strong collaborate partnerships between city leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, and residents.
- The Crossroads has a strong network of organizations and programs working to advance the economic growth of the arts district. These include private groups such as the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority and the Crossroads Community Organization, and public support such as Kansas City's Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund.
- Many adaptive reuse projects are working to convert underused warehouses into new lofts, apartments, office spaces, restaurants, and a variety of other purposes to create a truly mixed-use environment. These projects also aim to preserve buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and maintain the unique character of the area. One example is the Globe Storage and Transfer Co. Building.
- The city is actively working to attract 21st century companies and jobs to the Crossroads. Tax-abatement programs help to bring in technology start-ups and entrepreneurs, and partnerships with corporations work to help Kansas City compete in the knowledge economy. The Crossroads was one of the first arts districts in America serviced by Google Fiber.
- The district's success has been driven by strong community planning. In the late 1990s, the FOCUS (Forging Our Comprehensive Urban Strategy) plan was developed through a widespread public engagement process, and called for a revitalization of the urban core. More recently, the Greater Downtown Area Plan completed in 2010 sets high goals for Crossroads, including doubling the residential population, increasing employment, and promoting sustainability, to name a few.
- On the first Friday of every month, thousands of residents and visitors fill the sidewalks of the Crossroads to enjoy First Fridays, the signature event of the district. Art organizations, galleries, studios, and local businesses present local and national artists as well as live entertainment from 5–9 p.m.
- The Crossroads Music Festival showcases the music scene and vibrant art arts district in which the festival is held.
Pertinent Plans and Document Links
Forging Our Comprehensive Urban Strategy (document download page)
Greater Downtown Area Plan (document download page)
Upcoming/Planned Planning Activities
Hundreds of millions of dollars of economic development projects are under construction or have been recently announced in the Crossroads Arts District, including condominiums, apartments, businesses, and three hotels.