Redesign lowers costs of skywalk collapse memorial

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Promoters of a memorial for the victims and rescuers of the 1981 skywalks collapse at a Kansas City hotel say design changes will lower the costs of the project, making it more likely that the structure will be built by the end of next year.

The disaster at the former Hyatt Regency hotel on July 17, 1981, killed 141 people and injured more than 200 others when two skywalks collapsed during a dance party. Investigators said the skywalks were improperly attached to vertical rods hanging from the ceiling.

The nonprofit foundation still needs about to raise $150,000 to begin building the memorial, which will cost an estimated $335,000 after design changes. The original construction cost for the memorial in midtown Kansas City was $600,000, according to foundation board member Bill Quatman.

“The final push is where we are,” Brent Wright, president of the Skywalk Memorial Foundation board, told the Kansas City parks board last week. “It’s taken longer than we wanted to, but it’s going to happen.”

The new design retains the original plans for a stainless steel sculpture by artist Rita Blitt on top of a pedestal inscribed with the names of the 114 people who died. That will be surrounded by a small circular plaza with seating, commemorative plaques and ornamental grasses.

Plans for embedded pinpoint lights in the pavement, some stairs and a masonry wall have been eliminated.

Wright said work on the memorial will not begin until the foundation has raised enough money to complete the project and to establish a maintenance reserve.

The foundation has raised several hundred thousand dollars from more than 200 individual and corporate donors, some of which was spent on architectural, engineering and other consulting fees. The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation is managing the fund. Blitt and some companies are donating their services.

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