Kansas City, Mo., is nearing completion of the Brush Creek Corridor, a scenic riverwalk that winds through the city for six miles. Approximately half complete, the riverwalk will provide local flood control and urban green space, and encouragein the communities along the river's banks.
Brush Creek is a natural waterway that winds from Kansas into Missouri through Kansas City. Over the years, development has contributed to flooding -- the most notable flood being the September 1977 storm that caused more than $65 million in damage and claimed 27 lives.
To help regulate the creek's flow and prevent future problems, Kansas City and the Army Corps of Engineers began devising a flood control plan in 1979. The city signed a contract with Groves and Associates, an engineering and urban planning firm based in San Antonio, Texas, to design and provide project management services for the riverwalk. The final design for Brush Creek contained curvelinear walls on the channel with periodic weir dams to provide constant level impoundment of normal flows. Landscaped walkways along the channel were accented with lighting and fountains.
Work on the three miles with the highest potential for flood damage was completed in 1996. Since then, two floods that exceeded the 1977 flood levels were contained. Construction continues on additional sections with lower flood control priority; the major planned sections should be completed in late spring.
The newly landscaped corridor has inspired several institutions and businesses to move their headquarters to the area. For example, H & R Block has moved its Kansas City, Mo., home office in an 84,000-square-foot service center that is designed to expand to 124,000 square feet.
A private apartment complex and 88 duplex units also have located along the creek. Additionally, the riverwalk has promoted economic development in a number of neighborhoods, including the area east of Troost, one of the less economically developedin the city.
Several neighborhoods have taken advantage of tax increment financing to further enhance their areas. Planned developments include the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, a cancer research center; a hotel; and an ice skating rink.
According to Terry Dopson, director of parks, recreation and boulevards for the city, the riverwalk is making an impact on the community. "The Brush Creek Corridor is now probably the most exciting place in the city with over $750 million in recent development. I predict that 10 years from now it will be the hub of the city," he says.