Commmercial Buildings on Main Street

Kansas City, Missouri
Jackson County

While the Streetcar has done much for revitalization efforts along Main Street in Kansas City, the extension of the line beyond Union Station to 51st Street raises new concerns for historic structures along the line. Many of the commercial buildings along this stretch of Main Street date between 1880 and 1930, a period when Main Street was developing as the primary corridor between the Downtown and residential neighborhoods to the south. The buildings are primarily between 1 and 4 stories tall, with flat or low-pitched roofs, representing a variety of styles from Romanesque Revival to Art Deco. Development of the second leg of the Kansas City Streetcar has spurred a wave of speculative commercial real estate purchased along this stretch of Main Street. Many historic buildings have already been demolished, leaving wide swathes of empty lots in the streetscape, and many of those that remain are not listed in a National Register District and therefore lack the protection of historic preservation review. Unlike the primarily successful redevelopment seen along the initial stretch of the Streetcar, the buildings along this second leg are seen as less desirable as they lack density and height. A number of buildings are eligible for National Register listing, and some are currently in the process to be listed on the local historic register to pause demolition. It is hoped that listing these low to mid-rise commercial buildings along the new Kansas City Streetcar as Places in Peril will bring widespread awareness to the ongoing threat of demolition and inappropriate redevelopment along this stretch of Main Street, and encourage building owners to find ways to incorporate these important resources into their plans as they seek to redevelop Main Street in the coming months and years.

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