The Save The Plaza idiots won today.
The City Plan Commission voted 3-2 against approving plans for a new headquarters for the Polsinelli Shughart law firm on the Country Club Plaza.
I guess we can argue about people getting involved in government and standing up for local history.
But this move was just misguided.
First of all, I’ve never believed The Plaza had much "architectural integrity" as detractors of this project claimed. Secondly, the "Save The Plaza" crowd is filled with nothing but middle-class people who really need a hobby.
As for the effect of this move, it demonstrated that Kansas City isn’t a business-friendly place when misguided locals step in and certainly shows politicos near election time have no backbone.
But more important than my insights are what Plaza Property Management company Highwoods has to say. Thankfully, KCC had a look at their statement on this issue before anybody else:
FEBRUARY 15, 2011 STATEMENT FROM Mike Harris, Chief Operating Officer Highwoods Properties:
"REGARDING KC PLAN COMMISSION’S DECISION NOT TO ENDORSE ZONING AMENDMENTS FOR NEW POLSINELLI OFFICE BUILDING ON THE PLAZA
Of course we were disappointed with the Plan Commission’s recommendation. The panel’s decision to not recommend approval of the necessary zoning amendments is inconsistent with the recommendations of the City’s own professional planning staff.
Highwoods has spent months listening to input from the community and improving on the Polsinelli Shughart building plan. The result is an attractive, functional, compatible office building that meets all the city’s legal criteria and works within the letter and spirit of the Plaza Plan.
The vote was extremely close, 3 to 2. In fact, two commissioners chose to not vote at all. Unfortunately, it appears the commissioners were conflicted by a very outspoken minority that is opposed to higher office density on the Plaza.
The Commission’s action is only a recommendation, so we will continue to make our case to the City Council, which has the final say. This project is much too important to Kansas City and to the future health and viability of the Plaza to give up on.
It is important to the Polsinelli Shughart Law firm that is trying so hard to stay and grow in Kansas City. It is important to the city’s budget planners who could count on new property tax revenue. It’s important to the restaurateurs and retailers on the Plaza who would benefit from having more young professional workers on the Plaza during the day, and it’s vitally important to the hundreds of construction workers and their families who are struggling to find work in these tough times.
We appreciate all those individuals and groups, including the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, who have come out in support this much-needed building project. We will continue to forge ahead through the approval process."
Take close note of this measured and politic response, if you read between the lines there’s definitely a hint that Polsinelli could move thanks to people who don’t know that grassroots activism shouldn’t be about protecting a view or where you shop but working to fix the evils of the world, about which they don’t really seem to care.