Last Friday after afternoon my brother Jeff and I had some business downtown…
As we were leaving the area around 1 p.m. we decided to take a look at what was up in the Power & Light area. To be fair it was daytime, however this is Christmas shopping season and it was about 50 degrees and clear outside. Power and Light boasts that it has 50 stores, shops, restaurants and bars all under (kinda) one roof. A billion dollar entertainment romp.
There was nobody – and I mean nobody – down there. We stopped at about six major restaurants and found zip. The main, most popular one, McFadden’s had about six people eating and drinking inside. The manager said "Well, its daytime, there’s not much going on. We had some people in earlier, try the weekend nights."
We walked to the 810 Zone next door and they were, uh, closed. Raglan Road nearby was closed and owes back rent of around $400,000. Cordish let them stay without really ever paying rent for more than a year knowing it would be impossible for anyone to make that giant hole work. So why leave it empty?
We traveled inside the ‘mall’ area, which was empty except for about four or five people walking around. Again, it’s 1 p.m. at the height of the Christmas shopping season. On and on it went. The Bristol was the busiest with 30 people inside. A $4 million restaurant on a Friday during Christmas and only 30 people there for lunch. Sure they had maybe another 30 or 40 earlier, but that’s nothing.
Bottom line: In Year Four of the rebuild of downtown’s Power and Light District it has crashed.
The P&L never really flew. Its honeymoon was brief, and now instead of growing it’s dying.
Expansion is zero. There are few retail shops and not even a QUICK TRIP. Yes, I know it’s a bar area busy only on weekends and special events at Sprint Center. But all of that appears to be way down. Sure, New Year’s Eve will be busy, but most weekends have fallen off badly.
Parking is tough, not enough people live near the area, there area crime problems and more importantly, they have nothing to offer that PLAZA, WESTPORT OR MARTINI CORNER don’t already have. Yes, the bars are newer and nicer but that is wearing down as well.
Simply put, it’s been a loser from Day One and it’s getting worse.
I would imagine that few of those places pay much if any rent and haven’t for some time as other places didn’t. All of this money should have been spent in mid-town. The Plaza, Westport, Brookside and Waldo just should have chipped in to clean up downtown and let it go from there. In time though, it still probably wouldn’t have worked.
On the other hand, the Plaza is on the move, baby.
There are new restaurants that work, bar crowds at night have returned. It’s upbeat and the shopping crowds are solid. Just opened and well done places include, Gram & Dun, Seasons 52 and the new KC hot spot for finding your next divorce: Zocalo Mexican Cuisine and Tequila. The latter has girls, girls, girls – mostly on weekends – but weeknights aren’t bad either.
The Plaza is still King.
I wrote about Westport a few weeks back. They too are on a big upswing. No more hip-hop, crime is nearly gone, and the big weekend crowds of young white hipsters dancing and drinking have returned.
I’ll do an update on some of the new places mentioned and report back soon. I know it’s tough times out there, but Power & Light should have been better thought out for all the money we threw at the thing. So far it has not worked.
Check all of them out over the holidays and have some fun.