The Westport District Master Plan received the 2019 American Planning Association (APA) Missouri Chapter’s Outstanding Plan Award. The neighborhood plan was led by the Kansas City Planning Studio of Gould Evans and supported by the Westport Regional Business League, Historic Kansas City, and the City of Kansas City, Missouri.
The Westport neighborhood is an attractive place for businesses and new residents seeking an urban, walkable environment. The Westport District Master Plan was the first plan in nearly 50 years to provide more definition and specifics of what this historic neighborhood needs to encourage future development, preserve its pedestrian-friendly character, and continue to thrive as the most authentically walkable area of Kansas City.
One of the leaders who recognized the importance of fostering a positive relationship between the old and the new is Kim Kimbrough, Executive Director of the Westport Regional Business League.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your role in producing the Westport District Master Plan.
I serve as the Executive Director for the Westport Regional Business League and in that capacity provide leadership to enhance, preserve, and promote the unique and eclectic nature of the area that comprised the old Town of Westport. Our organization was the contracting entity that selected and oversaw the professional planners, Gould Evans, to run the process of community participation. And to develop a new and updated plan for Westport to help us protect and promote all of the features and elements that people like about the original part of Kansas City.
2. What inspired you to help support a neighborhood-level plan for Westport?
Westport has not really had a deep-dive plan since the early 1970s — almost 50 years ago. Even though Westport was included in the area covered by the Plaza-Midtown Plan from a few years ago, very little definition or prescription was included in that effort for areas outside of the Plaza. Westport is just as important — but different — and needed more definition and specifics that recognized the historical and pedestrian-scaled flavor and color of Westport.
3. What have you learned about Westport through this process?
Probably the largest takeaway for me was the strong and passionate feelings about Westport and its special place in the memories and culture of Kansas City that practically all stakeholders who engaged shared and expressed during the process – regardless of their interest as a property owner, business owner, patron, resident, preservationist, or citizen.
4. Did the community’s feedback surprise you?
Not really. Most of those involved with the large steering committee already knew that the scale, feel, and authenticity of Westport was important and worthy of being saved. After all, those qualities drew them to Westport in the first place and kept them coming back time after time. Westport has an important sense of place that needs to be maintained as additional development occurs.
5. What do you hope this plan can accomplish for the community?
I believe that the new Westport District Master Plan will help us collectively guide and encourage future development in the area while preserving and protecting the components of the built environment and public spaces that make it a one-of-a-kind pedestrian magnet and a uniquely interesting place.