March 14, 2011
When I sit down at my desk, usually rushing in from a meeting or two, the view out my tall south window always gives me pause.
Since The Chamber’s move to Union Station, I’ve seen Liberty Memorial in snow and rain and sunshine. With snow on the ground, I’ve watched people sled-riding down the long hill north of the memorial, while on warmer days, they’re climbing the hill from Pershing Road up to the memorial.
The grounds were designed by fabled landscape architect George Kessler, as part of his “City Beautiful” design for Kansas City, Missouri’s parks and boulevard system. The site across from Union Station was chosen for the memorial because it would be the first thing visitors to Kansas City would see as they emerged from the train station.
From my window, I also see a very busy parking lot, with lots of people coming and going at the Station.
As 2010 Chamber Chair Peter deSilva (UMB) said when he announced our move to Union Station, we hoped our decision, along with the Kansas City Area Development Council, would spur more development at Union Station. It certainly seems as if the beautiful and iconic building’s heart is beating more strongly these days.
There’s a good tenant mix: in addition to The Chamber and KCADC, there’s a very busy post office, the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, the International Visitors Council, UMKC, and the KCMO Election Board (which has been seeing its share of activity lately).
The Chamber’s lovely new Board Room has been keeping busy, too. Just in the last week, we’ve hosted a mayoral debate with Mike Burke and Sly James with 150 people in attendance; another 100+ attended an informative session on new health care regulations; KCADC held its monthly board meeting; and we had a private reception for our 119 Small Business candidates. We’re creating a lot of foot traffic.
The dinosaurs attracted thousands of visitors and the Princess Diana exhibit is expected to do well. During the week, there’s a steady stream of schoolchildren headed for Science City. Amtrak and the transit stop in the West Carriage Pavilion bring in visitors and commuters. And The Link connects the station with Crown Center.
Speaking of Science City, that institution will see $1 million in improvements, thanks to a generous contribution from the Burns & McDonnell Foundation. Chamber Chair Greg Graves, CEO and Chairman of the engineering firm, made the announcement at a crowded Science City news conference.
Greg is passionate about math and science education and says he wants the next Thomas Edison to be an American. He explains it beautifully in his interview on ChamberTV. The gift was in celebration of Burns & McDonnell’s 25th year as an employee-owned corporation.
Another notable development: the opening of Harvey’s, the new restaurant in the old Union Café space. Operated by Brancato’s, Harvey’s is open for breakfast and lunch, from 7:00 to 3:30. Michael George, formerly of Dean and DeLuca, has put together a menu using local ingredients – Boulevard Beer in the cheese soup, for example. And, of course, Brancato’s sausage.
I also need to mention Pierpont’s – a wonderful place for lunch, dinner, and cocktails.
All of this activity has been fun to watch. Congratulations to Union Station Chair Mike Haverty, his board of directors, and President George Guastello in returning vibrancy to Union Station. We enjoy being a part of it, and your vision, hard work, and difficult decisions are paying off.
It’s great to be at Union Station and if you haven’t visited us yet, we hope you will soon.