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moosnsqrl

Sustainable Urban Lot

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A local KC company announced plans for a very exciting new project:

As a Kansas City real estate developer, we at DST Realty build and renovate buildings that support the businesses and residences that are revitalizing the downtown area.  At the corner of 18th Street and Broadway, however, we envision a different kind of downtown revitalization.  The lot is vacant now, but in the coming months and years, it will be transformed into a working demonstration site where the public can learn about environmentally sustainable urban development and food production.

 

The site ultimately has development potential, but in light of the current real estate and financial markets, we posed the question:  What could we do with this property today that would be valuable to the community?

 

The site steeply slopes both south and east, and during a typical Kansas City rain storm, more than 5,000 cubic feet of water fall on the site and the hard street surfaces that immediately surround it.  The water that rushes down Broadway and along 18th Street pours into storm sewers.  We saw an opportunity to capture storm water runoff, keeping excess water out of the sewer system.

 

Together with 360 Architecture, Patti Banks Associates and TapanAm, we developed a plan to build a storm water capture and filtration system, utilizing innovative storm water management strategies such as storm planters, swales and rain gardens.  The storm water system will line the perimeter of the site, and collected water will flow into a retention pond at the southeast corner.  Our ambition is to capture and clean rainwater for 90 percent of the rainstorms that occur throughout the year—nearly a million gallons annually.

 

We then asked ourselves:  What if we used that water to irrigate a large garden in the center of the property? DST has operated a community garden at 10th and Jefferson for 17 years; this may be an opportunity to expand our efforts, and also develop an educational component to demonstrate gardening and water management principles.

 

Then the ideas really took off.  We developed a plan that includes a rain garden perimeter and agricultural interior, as well as possible future phases featuring alternative energy resources (such as bio-diesel, compressed natural gas, ethanol and electric filling stations), glass recycling, photovoltaic-power and high-efficiency, low-impact housing.

 

We took our plan to the community—to utility companies, government offices, neighborhood businesses, environmental groups and business organizations—to solicit feedback and generate support. The response was overwhelmingly positive.  We plan to break ground later this summer to build the storm water capture system and establish part of the garden.

Volunteer Community Gardening

The interior garden component encompasses two phases. Phase I, to be ready for spring planting in 2010, includes a demonstration area on the northwest corner of the site, and a high-production area on the southeast corner.  DST volunteers will tend these gardens.

 

The demonstration area will encourage visitors to consider the benefits of growing some of their own fruits and vegetables, then show them different ways they might approach this.  For example, one area will feature in-ground gardening, and another will feature raised beds.  One bed might be planted with a single crop, while another with several crops to help people understand the level of production they might expect with each approach.  We also will have freestanding pots to show it’s possible to grow vegetables or herbs—or even miniature fruit trees—in a limited space, such as a patio or balcony.

 

The high-production area at the southeast corner will feature a dozen raised beds measuring 12’x4’.  Each bed will be planted successively with spring/summer or spring/fall crops.  We will likely plant each with a single crop so that one bed may be sown with lettuce in the spring and harvested in time to plant tomatoes in late May.  The produce from this area will be donated to a community food bank, as will some of what is grown in the demonstration garden.

 

Phase II plans for the interior site are not finalized, but one possible design incorporates additional tiers of high-production raised beds, as well as fruit trees and berry bushes.  Again, produce would be donated to help feed Kansas City’s hungry.

 

Learn with Us

The overarching goal of the site at 18th and Broadway is to demonstrate best practices in sustainable urban living.  We want to share what we learn about food production and rain gardens, and how new technology can energize our homes and fuel our cars.  We want people to learn with us, and take these ideas back to their homes and neighborhoods.

 

DST Realty is a wholly owned subsidiary of DST Systems, Inc., a financial services recordkeeping firm in Kansas City, MO.

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You guys in KC need to stop hogging all of the forward-thinking land development types, or make missionaries out of them and send them to Wichita to save the heathens. :raz:

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I have been "farming" a plot in a similar project in Vancouver, BC, Canada. A developer has installed a temporary community garden while awaiting civic council approval for the proposed development. The garden is situated in the city core, in a neighborhood full of high density housing.

Although the installation of the garden is temporary in nature, and there are many infrastructure issues, I am grateful for the opportunity to dig in the dirt.

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I have been "farming" a plot in a similar project in Vancouver, BC, Canada. A developer has installed a temporary community garden while awaiting civic council approval for the proposed development. The garden is situated in the city core, in a neighborhood full of high density housing.

Although the installation of the garden is temporary in nature, and there are many infrastructure issues, I am grateful for the opportunity to dig in the dirt.

yes, I don't kid myself . . . whenever the market changes, I'm sure something more lucrative will replace this, but it's still a great idea for the time -- and in a VERY visible area, adjacent to our soon-to-be-fabulous performance arts center. The possibilities are amazing. Small victories.

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