Kansas City to host 2006 Congress

As many of you know, the APWA Board of Directors made the decision to move the 2006 APWA Congress and Exposition from New Orleans to Kansas City due to the devastation resulting from Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding of the New Orleans area. As Executive Director Peter King indicated in a communication to members on October 26, among those factors the Board took into consideration were the status of physical structures and accommodations in New Orleans as well as the impact of the hurricane on local APWA members and Congress volunteers.

The dates of the 2006 Congress will remain the same: September 10-13. APWA will return to New Orleans in the third week of August in 2008 and will hold the Congress in Indianapolis, previously scheduled in 2008, in 2012. "We are optimistic that this course of action will best serve APWA's members during upcoming Congresses," King wrote.

Kansas City: Reenergizing its downtown
For those of you who came to Kansas City for the 2002 Congress and plan to attend the conference next year, you'll notice plenty of project development taking place in the downtown corridor. The largest project is the Power and Light District, an $850 million, nine-square-block entertainment, office and residential district. When finished, the Power and Light District will provide a vital link between downtown Kansas City's core office buildings, the Kansas City Convention Center (where our Congress will be held), hotels, residential units and attractions. It will feature innovative open storefronts, broad brick-paved sidewalks, extensive landscaping and a permanent performance stage for live entertainment.

The Power and Light District is the first project in Missouri to request the use of MODESA incentives. MODESA is a new incentive tool that was unanimously passed in 2003 by the Missouri State Legislature. It provides incentives for major projects such as public infrastructure, public parking, land remediation and land acquisition that bring forth economic stimulus in Missouri's downtowns.

Another major project currently underway is the Sprint Center, a state-of-the-art, 18,000- to 20,000-seat arena that, in conjunction with the Power and Light District, will help transform downtown into a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week district featuring restaurants and retail activity. Along with hosting national and regionally known concerts and special events, the facility will house the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Kansas City-based National Association of Basketball Coaches whose offices will also be located inside of the arena. The Hall of Fame is expected to draw at least 150,000 visitors in its first year.

Perhaps the biggest change that 2006 Congressgoers will see concerns the convention center itself, which is currently undergoing a $135 million expansion and renovation. The center of the 135,000-square-foot expansion includes a 46,450-square-foot grand ballroom/multipurpose space. The ballroom will have a water theme, paying tribute to Kansas City's birth on the nexus of the Missouri and Kansas rivers and Kansas City's fountains. Many of the complicated design elements and building materials will use state-of-the-art technology to accomplish the innovative water theme.

Ballroom construction began in early 2005. The Kansas City Convention Center currently has 389,000 square feet of exhibit space, 98,000 square feet of meeting space and 23,900 square feet of ballroom space.

World-famous Kansas City barbecue can be found at more than 100 barbecue restaurants throughout the city. Photo: Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association

Don't forget our BBQ
As you can see, there's quite a lot going on in Kansas City as major efforts are underway to reenergize our downtown corridor. Be prepared to chat with the staff about this "urban renaissance" when you come to town, as we're very excited about all the positive changes taking place. Of course, our city still boasts of some great jazz joints as well as terrific shopping attractions such as the County Club Plaza and Crown Center. And yes, you'll still find plenty of places near the conference hotels where you can indulge in some of that world-famous Kansas City barbecue. Be sure to sample some when you come to town to attend what's sure to be another great APWA Congress.