Glazer: Power & Light District on the Ropes as Plaza Takes Top Spot

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.

Yes? No.

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.

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22 Responses to Glazer: Power & Light District on the Ropes as Plaza Takes Top Spot

  1. balbonis moleskine says:

    we need someplace downtown fakey to keep the conventioneers drunk. PnL is that place.

    How can they ever go back to the farm when they’ve seen PBR Big Sky and Angels?

    Real KC people will continue to use the Plaza and Westport.

  2. Downtown Davey says:

    Back Stabber
    Here I even take your side and you trash my downtown Glazer. That said you are mostly right. I have lived down here five years, the area is stagnant. My wife got robbed, attempted anyways, We are moving to Johnson County now. Did like Downtown.

  3. Good Citizen says:

    Hope You Lose Chiefs Bet
    Heard you on Dare, we all want you to lose. Don’t care about Power and Light. It sucks.

  4. paulwilsonkc says:

    KC is NOT a convention town!!!
    In my former life as a Director at Sprint and then as the head of my own consulting firm, I spent far more time than I ever care to think on the road at trade shows and conventions as an exhibitor and speaker. I

  5. Hearne Christopher says:

    The question is, can those places survive w/o strong local support? Apparently not.

  6. smartman says:

    Evil Times Three
    Cordish+Leiweke+Barnes along with compliant KC Star, Sports Talkers, KC Sports Commission, DOUCHEBAGGAGE politicians and civic leaders all need to take a bullet up the ass for the Teenage Wasteland they created.

    The only way to save downtown is with Strip Clubs, Massage Parlors and Hookers. That’ll get ya’ some REAL convention action too! When we can offer a hands on lap dance, a rub and tug happy ending and the ability to dispense some rectal justice in a hooker that looks like your ex, KCMO will be the new IT GIRL in the convention business. The BANGKOK of the Midwest! After a day of mindless chatter with zero spend prospects in a 10′ by 10′ guys want to abuse that expense account. The demand exists. Do we answer the call or let the phone ring?

  7. Chuckish says:

    World Class Journalism
    You head to a bar district at 1pm and declare it a failure because no one is shopping. WTF? I mean, seriously.

    The P&L is hardly my scene but I make weekly trips to Cosentino’s on Sundays or week nights and there are always plenty of people on the sidewalks. Based on your level of journalistic investigation, the P&L must be a wild success.

  8. Merle Tagladucci says:

    Remind me what was in that 6 square block radius before P&L got there.

  9. KC'd says:

    I drove through the P&L last week during the K-State game and it waspacked for blocks. Also, because I knew you would write this article, I drove to the Plaza near the library and saw nothing going on.

    Looks like P&L won that battle.

    It’s now 1-1, your move Mr. Glazer.

  10. Craig Glazer says:

    Power and Light is just that Light
    Good comments. I think Paul, who worked down there at a high level said it best: “We are not a convention city” that says it all. We don’t have many meaningful conventions. We all know this is a ZERO tourist town. Sure we get some in for sports or a concert here and there…but not many visitors to SEE KC….especially DOWNTOWN….so are there crowds at the P and L at times, YES, I said that…just not enough. The fact the area is heavily in debt, closes too many things too often and climbing is evidence to all that. Is it better than the ugly old few square blocks there before. Yes…..was it worth it…no. Its too small an area to matter…it is a new Westport thats all across from an arena with NO SPORTS TEAM, and now fewer and fewer meaningful events….honeymoon is over…we shot our wade…Garth Brooks, Tina Turner, Elton John…you not see much of that anymore….too risky for producers in this small market….we are a Midland Concert city not a Sprint Concert city…not enough interest on a regular bases….again had much of that been on the Plaza, big difference…closer to where people live, more money folks, much much lower on crime…higher end in general…and more nice things like a sports arena with a team, and the Plaza might have gotten that, better deal. We just don’t have the population in KCMO to rebuild ghettos, ain’t happening…now in Kansas, in time, different story…Westport still has a future if handeled right, same with Plaza,Brookside, Waldo, not downtown. There is just not enough interest….again NO QUICKTRIP YET….NO BIG STORES…THAT MATTER ….NO RETAIL…its not happening…at least not now….sorry.

  11. chuck says:

    Merle–apparently, Urban Blight.
    ULI Award for Excellence 2009

    Kansas City Power & Light District

    The Kansas City Power & Light District (KCP&L) is a shining example of urban land renewal and public/private partnership at its best. The district was the culmination of forty years of City efforts that transformed an area of urban blight into a vibrant downtown core which now attracts 8 million visitors. KCP&L is an engine for both future growth throughout the City and the greater metropolitan area.


    Don’t get me wrong, Urban blight is a real buzz kill, but methinks the cash we and our fellow citizens have coughed up over the last several years in an effort to revitalize downtown, will bring another Cato Institute report down on our heads faster than we can say Arthur Benson. In fact, its such a fuckin loser, I gotta believe Arthur Benson must have had something to do with it.

    I don’t understand it, but every time I hear about Cordish lawyers working their way outta bond payments reading the flights of birds the entrails of goats and accounting prestidigitation paperwork practices that would embarrass the execs at Enron, I feel like having another beer in Waldo…, wait, I always feel like having another beer in Waldo…, well, you get my drift.

    Maybe the mayor needs to consult with some mid management types from Sprint. He could at least give them a call. Some holier than thou desultory drivel before the call drops.

    I liked the Urban Blight better.

    It doesn’t cost as much, and its a lot more exciting.

  12. Blower says:

    What was the pizza place there called?
    Got dragged to The World’s Shittiest Pizza Place Ever at P&L a few years back. Swear they were putting thawed and putrid Totinos “pizzas” on a hot brick surface or something, then presenting them to us like it was the second coming of some Italian dude who knew what he was doing with pizza ingredients.

    Nasty, awful, terrible stuff. I went home, called the home office, and offered to fix their shitty operation, never hearing back. Wouldn’t have mattered that my pizza is bad too. What they made should have landed them in Federal Ass Pound Prison.

    Yet another reason that whole area sucks ass.

  13. paulwilsonkc says:

    Too high falutin fer me!!
    Prestigurgitation, CATO Inst, urban blight, Arthur Benson, goat entrails and the mayor? I’m outclassed. I can’t even complete the math problem to post this comment.

  14. dreamwriter326 says:

    Glazer, I just shot half a gulp of wine out my nose. “We just shot our wade.” Damn you!

  15. Woodside Pal says:

    Anything That Makes Our City Better Is Great
    I know the Power & Light struggles, but it is an upgrade from the past. Therefore a plus.

  16. harley says:

    glaze shut up…
    stupidity shows again. 1 pm on a weekday…get real scribe. Been to plaza at 1pm and never saw
    anyone in the places…so again…stick to hookers…hotties…football (maybe) and std’s and hair pieces.
    Sorry…hardly a sicentific analysis…b ut to you that would be way to much to expect.
    Also remember the place was starting to get going during the worst recession in a long long time which
    hurt it badly.
    So lets see what happens this year when the econmy heats up and people start spending cash again.
    I think theres still some life left there…of course it was a huge improvement over what was there
    before…so lets give them the benefit of the doubt on making it.
    Also…to try to make conclusions based on a 1pm stroll thru the area is nt really smart.
    I mean come on…that showed that maybe there was some bias in your article.
    Downtown will make it…it will take some smart marketing and promotions to make ithappen.
    I expect it to be packed on news years eve….but for me personally i don’t venture down there…
    i know you’re a;ways looking for some strange puss but if you had a girlfriend or a regular
    girl you would stay out of the hooker joints.
    as far as that place zocala on the plaza…i was there last weekend and had to say that
    there were some nice looking women…but glaze…get out of the hooker bars…come ut
    south and get yourself a classy woman.
    Now when can we expect more photos of jessica?
    Have a good new year.

  17. harley says:

    glaze…sprint is doing well
    sprint center is doing well..just had 19,000 jayhawk fans there for a game…it can do well but
    it needs to offer more events.
    Problem is that there are fewer and fewer events that can pack sprint. Thats the problem.
    Now…as the economy picks up i’m predicting that we will see a nba or nhl hockey team
    there. There are so many basektball teams wanting to move and in financial problem
    now that kc could get a snaggle ….and possibly share a team with st. louis.
    Its not impossible….its a very strong reality because when you put those 2 markets
    together you can get 4 million population…and the money is available right now
    if the movers and shakers make it happen.

  18. Craig Glazer says:

    Some Decent Points Harley
    Well those were very left handed compliments however: I didn’t just make those comments based on Friday, I have been down there several times, very hit and miss, and usually miss on any weekday night. I said the Sprint Center had fed the P and L but now with fewer events like you even said, that is tough….I don’t see a bright future…it offers mostly just bars, and we dont have the numbers living there or visiting…like you said need 4 million not 2…that is a huge issue for everything in KC…this city offers up restuarnts, shops and events for a population that just doenst exist for the most part….out south does better, more people, less crime, more money…I agree….Kansas it immediate future…even Legneds is moving up slowly….I see some good in Westport and the Plaza….but no nothing earthshaking yet…maybe in time….

  19. Chuckish says:

    Downtown Residents
    Downtown rentals are over 95% capacity, better than anywhere else in the metro. They aren’t building fast enough to keep up with demand. Market Station in the River Market was filled in a couple months (some of the highest price/sq rentals in the city including the Plaza). To say that downtown doesn’t have a future is just plain brain dead. And, the first reason being because there isn’t a Quik Trip is even more brain dead. You’re supposed to walk when you live downtown so a gas station isn’t really a high priority.

  20. Jenifer B says:

    You Are Gonna Lose The Chiefs Bet
    Chiefs will be undefeated for rest of season. You lose. Big mouth.

  21. Hearne says:

    Anybody miss…
    The dudes with the all-caps writing about Craig’s Steroids addiction, what a low life he is, etc?

    I thought not.

  22. Kyle Rohde says:

    Glazer, fair critiques and I agree but there is no 810 Zone in P&L. There is a Johnny’s…

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