Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kansas City’s Plaza does not require saving

For those believing in saviors and being saved this will appear as blasphemy, if one believes in that concept, too. Here goes…perhaps all will be well, life will continue without arterial bleeding if some would realize that the Plaza is what it is; a business, a marketplace, a collection of tenants who pay rent to purvey goods, a collection of adventurous people with financial stakes in the venture, and a beautiful public space. It is not, in my humble opinion, a cathedral nor an architectural masterpiece worthy of a national register.

The architecture is simulacra, a copy of somewhere else, a sort of retail Williamsburg theme park (financed restoration complete with costumed actors, thanks to Standard Oil and the Rockefeller family). Our Plaza is not our Plaza unless some readers here are deed holders. It’s amusing to me to walk from the West Plaza area down the hill to the Plaza shopping area. I see the signs in front yards and store fronts, on porches, encouraging me to save our Plaza. It makes me feel quite helpless; the signs, old and tattered, with a profile of the Seville Spain tower, look old, faded. The Country Club Plaza is not a country club.

The piece below, in our blog here, encourages us to let progress take its course and consider the benefits of the recent office building proposal. Robert writes a nice mental nudge for us to ponder.

In a way, it’s an awkward encouragement to save “bricks and mortar”. Business must innovate and change to meet the needs of customers who in the end pay for things. True, there’s a tax connection on this areas profit and loss report. But the philosophical grist of “saving” something that’s already changed, a place of business seems rather quixotic. We’re distracting and limiting business innovators, frightening investors, and making a nuisance of ourselves when we try to insert ourselves amid a game where we have no “skin”, no stake.

Most citizens don’t know the architectural connection to Seville Spain, and why should it matter?…perhaps the Plaza should have an orange store to remind us. Yet a fruit shop / juice bar cannot make a requisite profit margin to whisk past the overhead into the profit column.

This bit of writing takes Robert Anderson’s column a few steps further by suggesting we step back from the Plaza ink-absorbing kerfuffle and allow those with their literal and figurative skins in the business game (that is in no way a game) conduct business, and, with hard work and tenacity…grow.

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