KU Med is anchoring revitalization (through mental health!) in downtown KCK: Best of KC 2019
Our annual Best of Kansas City 2019 issue is out now. Go grab a copy. Alternatively, you can browse the results of the readers’ poll here. The issue also includes a list, compiled and written by The Pitch’s editorial staff, shouting out some of our current favorite things about KC. We’ll be publishing these items online throughout the month of October.
It’s been a long seven years since the Environmental Protection Agency controversially departed its massive, custom-built facility at Minnesota Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, for the former Applebee’s headquarters in sprawling, suburban Lenexa. The move left 220,000 square feet of vacant space in a KCK building so prominent you can see it from downtown KCMO. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County failed to find a tenant for this monster structure until last year, when the University of Kansas Health System stepped up with a plan for a $61 million renovation that would create a 47-bed behavioral and psychiatric facility in downtown KCK. That this proposal is actually going to happen is remarkable and worth celebrating for several reasons. One is that KU Med was even willing to spend $61 million on mental health. Another is that we’ve seen virtually no NIMBYism from area residents, who’ve welcomed a much-needed inpatient mental health facility to their community (imagine the fear campaign that would have taken hold in the Kansas suburbs). And then there’s the knock-on effects: Suddenly, this sleepy corner of Strawberry Hill has a new hospital, a boxing gym, and, soon, a brand-new grocery store, when the Merc Co-op (yep, the same one as in Lawrence) opens next summer.