OPENING SOON: A NEW CONVENTION CENTER HOTEL
James Bailey with J.E. Dunn Construction mopped the bar area in the lobby of the new Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel, which is in the final stages of construction. The hotel will open at 1515 Wyandotte St. on April 2 with 800 guest rooms, restaurants, a coffee shop, and 65,000 square feet of event space.
A long-promised new chapter in Kansas City’s tourism industry begins in just weeks with the opening of a new flagship convention hotel planted squarely in downtown.
On Wednesday during a sneak peak of the grand hotel at 1515 Wyandotte St., crews were sweeping floors, hanging artwork and putting the finishing touches on the airy lobby of the new Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel. Tall ceilings, modern chandeliers, a highend bar and contrasting light and dark finishes gave the new hotel a contemporary feel.
The 24-story hotel, which opens April 2, was conceived by city leaders who have fought for years to bring more tourism business to town. The city gave developers hefty subsidies, including taxincrement financing, or TIF; a community improvement district; and funds from the city’s convention and tourism sales tax. Brian Johnson, who will manage the hotel for Loews, said it has already booked groups through 2026 and guests booked for a volleyball tournament will fill 450 of the hotel’s 800 rooms on night one.
When crews broke ground two years ago, they estimated a May completion date. The April opening beats that expectation but falls just short of opening in time for March’s Big 12 basketball tournament at the Sprint Center.
Aside from the economic impact — an estimated 450 permanent jobs and restaurant spending — Johnson said the hotel would benefit the city as a spot for locals to have a cocktail or cup of coffee without having to book a room.
“It’s something for everybody to be proud of,” Johnson said, “and again, when we look at the longterm growth strategy for Kansas City, it’s incredibly important that we have infrastructure such as this hotel that’s ready to welcome people in and really put our best foot forward.”
In addition to the substantial tax incentives offered in the original deal, Kansas City in its upcoming budget plans to spend another $4.4 million for catering and management contracts at the hotel. Though the contracts were agreed to years ago, the city had to kick in funds to make up for falling hotel-motel sales tax revenue that should have covered those costs.
Guests in the bar will be able to see panoramic views of Kansas City, from Bartle Hall on the west across downtown and the northern edge of the Crossroads Arts District.
Loews Kansas City was built to complement the convention center, Bartle Hall, but it boasts 65,000 square feet of meeting space on its own, including the city’s largest hotel ballroom. At 27,000 square feet, Johnson said the room would comfortably seat a crowd of about 2,000 with food and beverage service.
In the coming weeks, he said, crews will go through what’s known as the “punch list,” inspecting facilities and finishes to make sure everything is in top shape for the first guests.
So far, hotel managers have brought on about 100 employees, and Johnson said they hired another 240 last week. By the time the hotel opens, he said, they’ll add another 100.
Those employees will go through orientation, departmental training and eventually run simulations for friends and family members of staff before the hotel opens to the public.
A few weeks before the hotel opens, Johnson said, they’ll perform what’s known as the “grand flush,” the act of testing all the running water in the hotel at once to make sure the temperature and water pressure can keep up with the demands of hundreds of guests.
Throughout the hotel, there are touches of Kansas City. Carpet patterns in the rooms are designed to look like flight paths, and other aviation-related decor helps honor the city’s history as the headquarters for Trans World Airlines, or TWA.
Meeting spaces throughout the hotel are named for Kansas City fountains, and the grand City Beautiful Ballroom celebrates the movement to beautify Kansas City at the turn of the 20th century that resulted in numerous city parks and boulevards.
According to VisitKC, Kansas City hosted 344 conventions last year, up from 290 in 2018. The organization attributes five conventions booked from now through 2023 to the Loews hotel. All told, guests attending those conventions are expected to book nearly 76,800 room nights.
Workers hustled Wednesday as they passed through the new Loews Kansas City Hotel’s 300-seat restaurant.
The new Loews Kansas City Hotel, looking down into the lobby from a level filled with event rooms and the largest hotel ballroom in the city, opens April 2.