Could Plaza Tennis Center be moved for future project site? KC has entertained ideas

Inviting new residential development is just one suggestion in a potpourri of community ideas about how prospective new owners could improve the Country Club Plaza — and a prominent city-owned property has recurred as one potential location.

Kansas City leaders have considered the Plaza Tennis Center at 4747 Mill Creek Parkway for possible development dating back more than a year. The 14-court tennis complex has been a Plaza fixture since 1928, just five years after the historic shopping center opened, but officials such as Mayor Quinton Lucas and City Manager Brian Platt have floated relocating the courts to a nearby rooftop to free up a mixed-use project site.

Platt’s office invited more than a dozen people, including officials with the city’s Planning & Development and Parks & Recreation departments, to a September 2022 meeting on “Plaza Tennis Courts Redevelopment,” the Kansas City Business Journal learned last year through an unrelated records request. No formal plans for the center have emerged since, but Platt said officials have received development ideas and remain “very interested” in proposals.

“There’s a lot of benefit there to more density, some more amenities, and to doing more with a higher and better use for that site,” Platt said last week of the Plaza Tennis Center. “We just don’t have anything concrete yet.”

Any proposal for the tennis property would require approval from the city’s Parks & Recreation board, which has oversight of the center. And although building height restrictions for the 4.5-acre complex aren’t codified under the city’s Plaza Bowl Overlay District, it’s still part of the Plaza area recommended for a three-story, 45-foot cap to help maintain a bowl concept under the Midtown/Plaza Area Plan, enacted in 2016.

Whether at the Plaza Tennis Center or elsewhere nearby, such as the grassy lot once intended for Nordstrom, builders see significant upside for new multifamily construction around the retail center. At least three plans totaling 779 apartments are in different predevelopment stages; the developer behind two of them, Block Real Estate Services LLC, said sites around the Plaza could house more than 2,000 new units in total.

In a recent conversation, Managing Principal Ken Block said that high interest rates have kept projects on pause but that in the long run, the Plaza still stands to see — and benefit from — huge demand for new residences.

“The Plaza is the most desirable investment location in Kansas City, period,” Block said of the area’s multifamily outlook. “Are there some things that can be done right now with the new owner coming in that could fix some perception issues? … You’ve got aging infrastructure; you’ve got garages that are in tough shape; you’ve got parking issues; you’ve got all kinds of things. But the right people can fix it, and they can make it a hell of a lot better than it is.”


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