Page 4 of 4
Location: 88th Street and Metcalf, Overland Park
Owner: Johnson County
The ski-lodge-style King Louie West building exuded suburban appeal when it housed bowling lanes and an indoor ice rink. But the building eventually got worn down, and its operator moved out. Its size, condition and now-tired kitsch became liabilities that held private developers at bay along this heavy-traffic corridor. Somehow, though, it looked good to JoCo's Board of County Commissioners; in 2011, six of its seven members decided to buy the old King Louie building for $1.9 million, then toss another $1.6 million at sealing it off from the elements. County officials justified the purchase at the time because they wanted to move the Johnson County Museum there and even add a larger National Museum of Suburbia. Then some elections happened; new commissioners joined the board, and they didn't like the deal. A national museum sounded fishy to some of them, and the need to get the county museum out of Shawnee wasn't persuasive enough to convince a majority of commissioners to spend more millions on making King Louie useful again. It sits empty today, dethroned and bereft of money or solid ideas. Some commissioners say the county should sell it.
Location: 63rd Street and Prospect
Owner: Tax Increment Financing Commission of Kansas City
Kansas City taxpayers have invested millions in the Citadel and have gotten only a trashed field in return. The Community Development Corporation–Kansas City was supposed to build a grocery store-anchored strip mall in a part of town that doesn't see much commercial development. But the men running the CDC-KC were in over their heads, didn't honor contracts, buried asbestos at the development site, and kept asking the city for more money to start their project. The whole thing exploded when federal authorities indicted the CDC-KC's principals right after City Hall nearly rejiggered the municipal budget to hand them a $20 million advance. Since then, the Citadel has somehow gotten even worse. The gas station there closed, and the city is still trying to finish decontamination of the site. Still, City Hall paid $15 million to settle a lawsuit brought by CDC-KC. The TIF Commission now owns the site, and the city has hired real-estate firm Kessinger/Hunter to market the property to some future developer.
Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park
Location: South bank of the Missouri River, between the Heart of America Bridge and the Christopher "Kit" Bond Bridge
Owner: Kansas City, Missouri
The riverfront north of downtown Kansas City is a confounding place. A decent park faces the dirty Missouri River, and a fine concrete trail rolls out of the River Market, only to abruptly end once it reaches the Kit Bond Bridge. An occasional jogger or cyclist uses the park, but aside from the rare festival and fireworks show, the whole area seems out of place, like an idea that never came to fruition. The Port Authority controls development just south of the park and is trying to market the property for some type of use; so far, there has been no substantial interest along the Missouri River.