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UMKC studies feasibility of downtown arts campus

KANSAS CITY (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City has hired a real estate business and two architecture firms to study the feasibility of a downtown arts campus.

Over the next several months the firms will craft a preliminary cost estimate for the project, look at potential downtown properties, develop site and concept plans and talk to the university and community. The university said funding for a potential downtown campus would come almost exclusively from local revenue streams.

Interest in the campus has grown with the recent opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity.

When the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce released its top five ideas for the region this fall, one of them was to move the university’s Conservatory of Music and Dance to a new downtown location. The university said in a news release that other programs that could be included in the move include the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and the public radio station KCUR.

“We are intrigued by the public’s interest in having a downtown performing arts campus,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton in a written statement. “We want to conduct our due diligence to make sure that this is in the best interest of our students, the University and the Kansas City community.”

One of the firms picked for the project is Helix Architecture + Design, whose recent projects include the renovation of historic Kansas City landmarks such as the Midland Theatre and AMC’s Mainstreet Theatre.

“Having worked extensively in Kansas City’s downtown and Crossroads neighborhoods, the opportunity to help UMKC explore the idea of a downtown arts campus is a great way for Helix to contribute to the university’s evolution,” said Jay Tomlinson, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design, in a written statement.

The other two firms picked to participate in the feasibility study are HGA, an integrated architecture, engineering and planning firm, and Integra Realty Resources Inc., a commercial real estate valuation, counseling, and advisory service.

While the feasibility study is under way, the university plans to conduct an independent economic impact study to investigate how the arts campus could complement investments in other arts facilities and help small businesses emerge.

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