Look North Gala Draws Crowd for Honors, Zoo “Friends” and Big Update
Look North

Nearly 200 people joined the Clay County Economic Development Council’s Look North Gala Saturday, Oct. 23 at Harrah’s North Kansas City.

The event presented Tim Harris of Star Development with the 2021 Look North Award. The late Keith Nelson, was given in Memoriam special recognition for his efforts behind the Francois Chouteau Monument.

Guest speaker Randy Wisthoff, executive director and CEO of the Kansas City Zoo, introduced several of his “friends,” including a large lizard that seemed to have no stage freight.

A major highlight was the first public presentation of the EDC’s 587 plan by Chair Greg Canuteson. Under way since late 2020, the project is developing plans for land surrounding I-435 and Highway 152. Based on meetings, studies of similar areas nationally and master planning by the Olsson engineering firm, the plan will soon be unveiled at public events throughout Clay County.

Randy Wisthoff, executive director and CEO of the Kansas City Zoo, brought several “friends” to the Look North Gala, including this colorful lizard.

The core of the plan features seven basic amenities to enhance the immediate area and Clay County as a whole. The seven are areas featuring entertainment; sports, parks and recreation; specialty retail; restaurants; civic opportunities; Class A office space; and housing options.

As Canuteson noted, recent revisions to the plan include a proposed school; a mixed-use neighborhood draw; a destination park, an arena-entertainment district; an innovation campus; and mixed-use areas designed to draw from throughout the Kansas City metro, including amenities such as a river walk.

The amenities are designed to attract regional visitors, as well as meet unique Northland needs. For example, the entertainment district would include an arena to compliment Northland soccer and an outdoor facility with a retractable roof. The facility would include roughly 6,000-8,000 seats. Another area would be suitable for e-sports.

Other elements would include “eat-ertainment,” locations with indoor and outdoor game facilities and adjacent dining. Other entertainment areas would feature a drive-in theater sharing parking with the arena; renovation and upgrade to the Hodge Park amphitheater; a live music destination; a venue similar to KC Live; and an independent film district.

EDC Chair Greg Canuteson presented the initial 587 Plan for development directions surrounding the I-435 and Highway 152 interchange. This view is looking north toward the junction, one of the few undeveloped interchanges along I-435.

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