more Ave. was in jeopardy and then with the uproar 11⁄ weeks ago when Highwoods Properties announced it wanted to tear down the vintage Balcony Building to make way for a glass office tower, the foundation has been galvanized.
Hundreds of new members have joined, a Facebook page “Save the Plaza” has more than 5,000 friends, and the organization (www.historickansascity.org) is holding a rally this Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at the J.C. Nichols Fountain to protest the Highwoods proposal. Highwoods modified the proposal last week, but not enough to stem opposition.
The historic foundation is gearing up to oppose the Highwoods office plan when it begins the review process at City Hall in early October.
“It’s really ratcheted it up a couple of notches,” said Scott Lane, president of the historic foundation. “It’s increased our membership, increased our presence and in some ways, that story got our tires back on the road.”
The first round of this renaissance was sparked by the plight of the Cosby Hotel. The city had filed an emergency demolition
2order for the property built in 1881, one of downtown’s oldest commercial buildings.
Historic Kansas City helped lobby the city to take another look at the building, and as a result, engineers decided it could be stabilized for a relatively modest amount, $7,800.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation was consulted, and there was hope the owner, Rick Powell, would donate the property to a nonprofit, which in turn would hand it over to a developer to revitalize.
Last week, however, Powell pulled the rug out from under the effort and said he planned to demolish the three-story brick building.
Lane, who makes his living as a managing broker for Reece & Nichols, said the Historic Foundation wants to make one more effort to dissuade Powell, but the experience was revealing.
“People saw it as a new day for the Historic Kansas City Foundation,” Wagner said. “We