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Jim Leedy, the renowned artist who pioneered the Crossroads Arts District in 1985, knows what he wants when someone decides to name a hotel bar after him.

“If I have a bar named after me, I should get free drinks,” Leedy quipped at the festive grand opening last week of the Hotel Indigo at 2020 Grand.

He also approved of how things have evolved since he fled a “gentrifying” Westport 30-plus years ago to find a cheap haven in what was then a forlorn backwater of downtown.

Redeveloper Matt Abbott discusses his latest project — reviving two blighted buildings in the 1600 block of Grand Boulevard — and the continued role incentives will play in revitalizing the Crossroads.

Abbott Properties Wins Initial Approval on Grand Boulevard Development

September 20, 2018

Kansas City Business Journal

A prolific Kansas City redeveloper got an endorsement Thursday from a tax-incentive granting agency to convert two buildings on Grand Boulevard, potentially adding more event, office and retail space to the Crossroads.


Developer Matt Abbott plans to spend $6.8 million converting a one-story building in the 1600 block of Grand Boulevard into a high-end event space with a rooftop deck. Next door, Abbott plans to put a “signature” local retailer in the first floor of a three-story building with offices on top. He said he’s in talks with a potential retail tenant.

Abbott told the Kansas City Star last January that he purchased the building with the specific intent of partnering on a music venue with JR Facility Management — a company that made a name for itself operating Marathon Music Works and the historic Exit/In in Nashville, Tennessee. JR’s owners, Chris Cobb and Josh Billue, renovated both venues and turned them into resounding successes in the absurdly crowded Nashville music scene.

Cobb said the Kansas City venue was a good fit for the company’s first expansion foray outside of Nashville because the city and the Crossroads neighborhood are so vibrant. And Cobb said it didn’t hurt that KC has been well-regarded nationally as a heavy ticket-selling market.

This week, he sold out the Truman, which is owned by Chris Cobb and Josh Billue, who run JR Facility Management in Nashville. The building is part of the East Crossroads Urban Redevelopment Plan started by Kansas City developer Matt Abbott in 2015.

The 18,000-square-foot venue features five bars and a balcony/VIP area for patrons 21 and older. Thursday morning, workers were still busy prepping the room for Saturday’s show.

“We’ve got a lot of little details to cover,” said Matt Phillips, the venue’s general manager. “We painted the stage last night. Today, we’re filling up the bars and setting up the box office.

Two Kansas City residents are turning their passion for dance into a new business: Dance Fit Flow.

The dance studio designed for adults is slated to open Sept. 25 in the Crossroads Arts District at 470 E. 17th St. The owners, Lauren Boyd and Kerri Pomerenke, aim to create an inviting and approachable environment that welcomes all skill levels, even those who have never taken a dance class.

This month, the Crossroads won “favorite neighborhood” in an INK magazine poll between 32 Kansas City neighborhoods, beating the River Market in the last round with 63 percent of the popular vote.

Art galleries and studios, boutiques, breweries and distilleries, and noteworthy restaurants are the draw in this area — south of downtown Kansas City, north of the historic Union Station, east of Interstate 35 and west of Troost Avenue. And new additions are giving people even more reasons to visit.

Nearly two years after the announcement came that Mission Taco Joint was coming to the Crossroads, it is at last ready to open its doors today at 18th and Oak Streets. The restaurant is set to join an increasingly vibrant dining and drinking block in the East Crossroads neighborhood, which is now also home to Border Brewing Co., Brewery Emperial, International Tap House, Grinders and Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters.

Abbott Properties’ base of operations is at 1837 Grand, in a building not long ago occupied by a business called Cowtown T-Shirts. The space has been renovated — horizontal wood, glass-paned offices, concrete floor — to accommodate Abbott’s employees: construction workers, leasing agents, the management team. Guys in Carhartts come and go clutching Jimmy John’s cups; a sign inside near the door warns, “If you are dirty, don’t sit on the couch.”


Abbott is 44, with blue eyes that rarely blink and a surfer’s lilt to his voice that partly belies the fact that he has been a millionaire since he was 27 years old. In many ways, Abbott embodies the current aspirations of the city. He cites articles on the internet that call Kansas City a city “on the move,” a place to keep “on your radar,” a spot that is fast becoming “on the map.” He is fond of Richard Florida–style buzzwords. 


“We are working to create an entrepreneurial and creative heartbeat for the city,” Abbott says, gazing out his conference-room windows onto 19th Street. “I see the East Crossroads as a boutique area where entrepreneurs flock in Kansas City.” 

The 75 percent cap on property tax abatements and diversions adopted via a Kansas City incentive-reform ordinance in October finally has been applied despite a developer’s request for a larger break.

Matt Abbott, the leading developer in the East Crossroads, had asked for a 10-year, 100 percent abatement to support a six-building, $9.6 million redevelopment blitz.

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