This town’s long, horrible Plaza real estate nightmare seems to be at a conclusion today.
A project that has sat empty for more than a year has now been handed off to some other sucker. Now all of this town is left guessing as to what will become of the project.
I have a few thoughts that not only summarize the whole disaster but offer some hope for new alternatives.
After 18 months in Chapter 11 bankruptcy the beleaguered West Edge at 48th Street and Belleview has now been sold to developer Cecil Van Tuyl for a measly $9.5 million.
Without question, this entire disaster has been a testament to the hubris and lack of foresight from Kansas City’s business elite.
The funny thing in all of this is that most people behind the scenes blame local ad guru Bob Bernstein for the disaster. Before this mess the guy was widely admired in the local biz world as a bit of a pioneer. In the aftermath he’s established a reputation as an indecisive scatter brain dumped by one of this town’s most respected construction firms.
But I’m interested in the future.
Bernstein set up this project as a "multi-use" facility that would host an "Advertising Hall of Fame" that was mostly a tribute to his family’s company.
Luckily, the ad market is in the toilet never to return and the Internet has moved us beyond the age of advertising. So, scratch that idea.
The sad thing here is this part of The Plaza once housed some rather neat dwellings that provided character and population density to the Plaza. And the nasty looking new facade signals that Plaza livability is a thing of the past.
What to do in the aftermath?
Personally, I think they should turn the building into Section 8 housing and bring more diversity to the Plaza area and the last great real estate market in Kansas City.
But, I’m an optimist who believes in open markets and not the current stock market/taxpayer financed oligarchy that currently passes for capitalism.
So, maybe another casino could take the place of an advertising hall of fame?
Sure, there have been a few minor development successes in local real estate development but for the most part the casinos built with the blessing of Rev. Cleaver are the last big, Kansas City win. Playing on the hopes and dreams of suckers is really the only growth market during this current epoch of the Amercian Economy now that the manufacturing base has been completely decimated and services from the professional class can be accomplished much more cost effectively from India.
So, good luck to new West Edge owner Cecil Van Tuyl. He’s gonna need it.