Some exciting news for the Plaza/UMKC/Brookside area last week: a Whole Foods Market is planned for 51st and Oak St, across from the UMKC administrative center. Currently, this area is mostly a parking lot,
with the Kansas City Young Matrons Club House at the corner. On top of the Whole Foods will be a four-story, $39 million luxury apartment complex, with monthly rental prices ranging from $950-$1900. (These apartments will not be targeted towards the student population). If all goes as planned, the project would open sometime in 2015.
Some controversy has spung up around this plan because the developers want access to the project through a new driveway that cuts through the popular Trolley Track Trail, heavily used by walkers, joggers and bicyclists. There are already areas now where vehicles cross through the trail, but this new drive would likely produce much more traffic going in and out on a daily basis, competing with heavy pedestrian use. Parking for the complex would be in a garage in the middle of the site.
Overall, I think our community will welcome the Whole Foods and the apartment building. Whole Foods is just the sort of retailer that will do well at this location, serving students as well as the thousands of residents in the area. Although public parking is already scarce here, many people would walk or bike to shop at the store. Folks who live in this part of town are attracted to the area precisely because they don’t always have to jump in the car to patronize area restaurants, stores and other services. Having a huge (eyesore) parking area in front of the store isn’t necessary.
“Walkability” is a very desirable feature for many homeowners–and potential home buyers. Welcome, Whole Foods, and make sure the drive over the trail is well marked and lighted at night for pedestrians. Don’t remove the bus stops on Brookside Blvd that drop off on Oak or Brookside Blvd. Work with the neighbors, respect the Trail (one of our most beloved amenities) and you’ll be rewarded with our business.
While I would like to have Whole Foods in the neighborhood as a frequent user of the Trolley Track Trail I am opposed to a private drive crossing the trail. Many streets intersect the trail as it winds through Brookside, but no private drives do, especially one like this which will likely be high traffic. Why do they need access from Brookside? Access from Oak and 51st street should be adequate.