UMKC abandons downtown conservatory plans, will look closer to main campus

After seven years of efforts to move the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s conservatory of music and dance to a new downtown campus, school officials are pulling the plug on that plan in favor of a larger facility closer to UMKC’s midtown campus.

New plans call for a 250,000-square-foot facility within 2.5 miles of the current conservatory. The price for the new project is listed at $100 million, not including any land purchase. Half of the money would be raised from private sources.

UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal said proximity to UMKC’s campus has come to be seen as “an essential element” of the project.

Downtown development officials expressed disappointment with the decision.

Tuesday’s announcement is the latest in a series of twists and turns for the project. The downtown campus was one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s “Big 5” ideas announced in 2011. In 2013, Julia Irene Kauffman pledged $20 million toward the $96 million project.

In 2017, Missouri lawmakers approved $48 million of state funding to be matched by private donations. But former Gov. Eric Greitens opposed the plan, ultimately vetoing it on the same day that UMKC said it would look elsewhere for all $96 million.

UMKC said in May that it was accepting proposals for buildings that could be renovated for the facility, and on Tuesday the school narrowed its focus to plans within the 2.5-mile radius of campus.

Read more: Kansas City Star, KCUR

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