The West Bottoms area of Kansas City is a unique area posing a number of land use challenges. This 785 acre triangular area is bound by the Missouri River on the north, the Kansas state line on the west, and Southwest Boulevard and the Bluff diagonally to the east.
While the West Bottoms is physically close to the River Market, Central Business District, and Crossroads areas of Kansas City (which have witnessed development and redevelopment activity over the last 15 years) development has been slow to come to the area, partially due to significant grade differential which limits access to the area to a number of older viaducts. The area was originally home to the City’s livestock and meat packing industries, as well as a large rail and industrial component. As the livestock industry waned and industrial production methods moved away from multi-story buildings to single story facilities, economic activity left the area. Today the area is home to a mix of large under-utilized potentially historic buildings, modern industrial facilities, public facilities (Kemper Arena and the American Royal Complex), vacant land, public sanitary sewer plants, correctional facilities, and a number of recent redevelopments of older buildings.
Aside from the public holdings, there are several property owners with significant holdings and redevelopment plans. The Port Authority is also attempting to reactivate the Municipal Wharf. Additionally, there are infrastructure issues relating to sewer capacity and access, and the area is bisected by the state line dividing the area into Kansas and Missouri portions. Historically, the area has also been prone to severe flooding, which has been addressed through the enhancement of the city’s levee system. Although the fear of future flooding may create a psychological barrier to investment for some, sustainable funding for the maintenance of the current levee system is a more tangible challenge.