November 23, 2021

Power & Light president talks Three Light, South Loop cap and KC stadiums

Over the past 20 years, John Moncke often has found himself at Liberty Memorial, gazing at Kansas City's skyline while resting during weekly downtown runs.

The metro's landscape looked different when he first began the ritual. For one, the Power & Light District, which Moncke now oversees, had not been built. Every now and then, a pack of wild dogs would chase him and his own canine companion off the field that now houses the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

"I always look at the things that weren't there when I first started doing that run," Moncke said during a breakfast presentation organized Friday by CCIM Kansas City at the Mission Hills Country Club. "There certainly weren't 32,000 people living Downtown. There weren't 110,000 people working Downtown here, and there weren't 9 million (annual) visitors."

Moncke, previously the executive vice president of stadium and brand revenue for Sporting KC, shared his perspective on multiple major Kansas City projects, both in the works and concept stages. Here are some highlights:

Three Light

Cordish Cos. in August began work on its third luxury multifamily tower to date at Walnut Street and Truman Road. Upon Three Light's planned opening in September 2023, the $140 million, 26-story building will bring the Baltimore-based developer to 900 apartments completed in Kansas City since One Light's opening in 2015.

About 450 people are expected to live in Three Light's 288 units, which range from just under 400 square feet for the smallest studios to 2,300 square feet for a three-bedroom penthouse, Moncke said.

The building will have more than 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenity space, plus a jazz motif that includes black and white piano keys, warm wood tones and bold brass notes.

Moncke also highlighted 7,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space, which he said will feature "something really exciting" that he cannot yet disclose.

"There's going to be something really special on that first floor that we're working on," he added.

Capping the South Loop

Moncke first heard about a long-floated proposal to build a cap over Interstate 670, making room for a public park between the Central Business and Crossroads Arts districts, in early 2018. He was sitting in Two Light, looking out over the highway with several top-level executives from Sporting KC and the Cordish Cos.

"It's just an inspiring project because it would transform the city once again where we have that unnatural bisecting feature of the highway — it just goes away," Moncke said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation did not include a $2.4 million request, made by the Downtown Council of Kansas City to advance planning for the Interstate 670 cap, in its latest round of RAISE grant awards, announced Friday.

Still, Moncke said he is hopeful that the new federal infrastructure bill can support the project, which has been estimated as a $160 million investment.

"The private sector has already responded. ... We've raised the money we need privately," he said, though he did not specify sources. "We really just need the public side of it, so (the infrastructure bill) is huge. This is a game-changer."

Moncke noted that initiatives to cap interstates with green space have been carried out in other cities, such as Dallas, which in 2012 opened Klyde Warren Park above a section of its Woodall Rodgers Freeway. It has started work on a second, the Southern Gateway Park, over its Interstate 35E.

Should Kansas City win over FIFA and host the 2026 World Cup, Moncke said, "Imagine the types of celebrations that can happen in that park — incredible."

Riverfront soccer and downtown baseball

Talk of a possible new ballpark for the Kansas City Royals swelled in September, after chairman and CEO John Sherman shared that the team is undergoing "an internal process" to evaluate where it will play in the future, "as if there weren't enough exciting things going on downtown," Moncke joked.

"I know a lot of you probably daydream about this like I do, what that's going to be like for us to be able to make up an excuse to go to a day game Downtown or even a night game" he told the audience.

Just weeks after the Royals news the Kansas City Current announced plans to build a $70 million, 11,000-seat stadium at the Berkley Riverfront. Slated for a 2024 opening, the venue will support the professional women's soccer team on top of a range of other year-round events, sporting and otherwise.

Moncke praised what he described as the "compelling vision and unbelievable commitment" from Current owners Angie and Chris Long. He cited the riverfront stadium as an example of "telling the KC story on the global stage."

"I don't think this is the kind of thing people used to expect from Kansas City, but what a compelling story about inclusion and equity, and it's exciting to think about the business opportunities we could create and develop in conjunction with that stadium," he said.

View article online here. 

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