Over the past few years, a combination of infrastructure investments, new development, and entrepreneurial energy is revitalizing Rosedale and contributing to Kansas City’s urban renaissance. Since moving to the Rosedale over two years ago, I’ve witnessed a transformation that is quickly accelerating. This is the first post of a series highlighting the improvements as well as some of the challenges the neighborhood faces. First, I’ll focus on a combination of sidewalk projects, bike lanes, and trails that are laying the groundwork for the area’s resurgence. Many of these improvements have been coordinated by the Rosedale Development Association as part of their ‘Live Complete’ campaign that aims to create ‘complete streets’ in Rosedale that support walking, biking, and transit as well as cars.
Rosedale is the area bounded by the state line to the east, the Kansas River to the north, the county line in the south (47th Street) and 18th Street/Highway 69/Roe Avenue in the west. Notable landmarks include KU Med Center, Joe’s Kansas City, the Rosedale Arch, Strasser Hardware, and the Boulevard Drive-In theater. Rosedale was once its own municipality but was annexed into the City of Kansas City, Kansas in 1922. Rosedale is still fairly independent minded, and some long-time residents still think of themselves primarily as Rosedalians.
The Unified Government jump-started a sidewalk replacement movement in 2012 when it launched a clever sidewalk incentive program that subsidizes 50% of the sidewalk replacement costs for a single house and up to 75% for 5 or more adjacent properties. The program results in longer stretches of the sidewalk network being replaced at once with the added benefit of encouraging neighbors to get to know each other, building social capital.
The Spring Valley Neighborhood (Rosedale consists of many smaller neighborhoods within the greater Rosedale area), demonstrated the potential of this program in a big way. The neighborhood banded together to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign through local startup neighbor.ly. Combined with about $50,000 pitched in by the Unified Government through its Community Neighborhood Infrastructure Program (CNIP), the neighborhood raised the funds to replace a majority of the sidewalks and curbs in the neighborhood at once. Work is underway now and many of the sidewalks have already been replaced. Watch the crowdfunding video below:
Adjacent to Spring Valley, the Frank Rushton and Hilltop Neighborhoods are about to see an upgrade of their sidewalk network as part of the Safe Routes to school program and CNIP funds. This project will replace aging sidewalks and add new sidewalks to the neighborhood with the goal of connecting neighborhood children to the elementary school. See below for a conceptual map of the sidewalks to be replaced/added to the neighborhood.
A third sidewalk project aims to connect Rosedale Park to the surrounding neighborhood. A new sidewalk along Mission Road will replace what is currently a worn dirt trail alongside this busy corridor that separates the neighborhood from the park. This hazardous situation is being remedied with a new sidewalk and mid block crossing into the Park.
Wyandotte County is severely behind the curve when it comes to bicycle infrastructure, but Rosedale is leading the way with the first bike lanes in Wyandotte County on Southwest Boulevard. These lanes continue into Missouri and connect riders from central Rosedale to Downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
Rosedale has some serious topography challenges between Southwest Boulevard and the bluffs rising to both the north and south. These bluffs make connectivity between different parts of rosedale difficult and results in a large amount of undevelopable land.
A group of volunteer trail builders, led by the Rosedale Development Association and Urban Trail Co., in partnership with Wyandotte County Parks and Recreation is transforming this barrier into an asset with a new network of nature trails that follow the ridgeline. This group has built many miles of trails, creating a destination for mountain bikers, trail runners, and nature lovers while also enhancing neighborhood connectivity.
A new Rosedale bus line rounds out Rosedale’s multimodal infrastructure. KCATA launched the Rosedale 105 in June 2014. It functions as a neighborhood circulator, connecting amenities such as the KU hospital, grocery stores, a community center, public library, retail, and neighborhoods. KCPT’s website features an interactive map showcasing the new route.
Collectively, these infrastructure investments have benefited residents by making it easier to walk and bike to school, parks, and other amenities in the neighborhood and have attracted new residents and businesses to the neighborhood. However, there are still many gaps in the sidewalk network, a severe lack of bicycle infrastructure, and transit service shortages. In particular, Rosedale would benefit from better integration between KCK and KCMO bus routes. It is difficult to get from Rosedale to Downtown KCMO via transit — a bus line on Southwest boulevard from Rosedale to Downtown KCMO seems like a logical addition to the transit network. It is very uncomfortable to get from Rosedale to Downtown KCK via bike — crossing the Kansas River or I-70 via the existing crossing on 7th or 12th street is a harrowing experience. Finally, many areas of Rosedale suffer from low intensity and suburban style development, such as drive through fast food restaurants, that hinder walkability regardless of the existence of sidewalks. (Although this is changing as new development follows the design guidelines outlined in the Rosedale Master Plan.)
The next post in this series will highlight the development boom that has paralleled these infrastructure improvements.