Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Ghost Town in Kansas City

The city puts one of my favorite mid-century modern areas out of business
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Yesterday while on the job, I found out, late it seems, that my favorite part of Chouteau boulevard is being demolished to make way for a parkway.  In an area south of the dead Antioch Center dead mall the city of Kansas City has used its powers of immenent domain to board up houses, shutter small businesses and pretty much plow under an area to make way for a four lane parkway with an area of green space in between. In less than a month, the area of about four blocks has become an abandoned ghost town, except for the constant automobile traffic, of which this strip owes its original commercial vitality and its eventual demise to.

There is a ghost town a few scant miles from downtown -- a situation that is not really that unique, if you think about it. I thought to write that what is unique about this abandoned area is that this one is a creation of the city. I realize, however, in a way, all the abandoned areas of town are a result of city government interference or neglect in one way or another. Other media outlets report that the area of Chouteau between 210 to the south and 435 to the north is being cleared out for a broad expanse of green through which will flow a divided roadway. My suspicious mind told me that coincidentally there might be a major development going in somewhere closeby, and it isn't what is on the road that the city is after, but what is under it -- infrastructure. Big developments need big sewers and water mins and such. I said so much to my friend, Ken who was walking with me. I said it would be interesting to see if construction of this parkway included oversized mains. He told me that be saw signs on the other block for huge infrasturucture improvements. So perhaps big things are coming... we'll see.
The last remaining open buisiness on this strip is a little drive in owned by the Digiovanni family. The well patina'd sign say's "serving you since '62." Stacks drive in seems to have a loyal following.
Besides serving italian sandwhiches, burgers, tenderloins and other forms of good old fashioned short order fare, the family, mainly Rosie has taken in a lot of the stray critters -- mostly cats. The ones the've been able to catch, they have taken to local vets and animal welfare organizations to have spayed or neutered. They release them into the nearby woods and keep some food out for them. Rosie says she will miss her animals. There is no where for the feral felines in Independence, where Stack's is moving to.
Donut King is another casualty of this 'progress' that I will miss.  Sure, it has moved to a new location in a strip mall in North Kansas City's east side, but it won't be the same as the old location with its big light bulbed sign.  I went there once, and met the couple who ran it.  They were extremely nice and seemed to be good neighbors who loved their area and got to know everyone around them.  The donuts, when I could eat donuts, were excellent.  But it, along with a lot of small businesses, and I'm sure, memories will be gone soon.  Demolition has already begun.  I won't take long to erase what was here, to build something that arguable, bucks the national trend for more pedestrian/community friendly developments.
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