By Kathy Feist, Editor
It’s an exciting time for the Waldo community.
On September 1, Andy’s Frozen Custard held its grand opening at 79th and Wornall, replacing the dilapidated Berbiglia Liquors property with an attractive family-friendly destination.
Price Chopper at 85th and Wornall plans on a November grand opening after months of remodeling the facility within the revitalized Wornall Village Shopping Center.
Strip’s Chicken has brought life to the former Kentucky Fried Chicken building that had blighted the neighborhood.
And the luxury apartment complex Waldo Flats 222 has replaced the worn antique shops along 75th Street.
On September 15, over 20 new or rebranded Waldo businesses participated in a large-scale ribbon cutting celebrating their opening during the pandemic. The event was sponsored by the Waldo Area Business Association and helps kick off the 29th Annual Waldo Fall Festival on September 18.
But perhaps most exciting to the area is the Wornall Redevelopment Plan affecting 74th to 79th streets.
The plan, which is expected to break ground next spring, will include complete reconstruction of Wornall Road down to the dirt, along with new sidewalks, curbs and gutters. The parking lot at the northeast corner of 75th and Wornall Road will be reconfigured to accommodate an extension of the Trolley Track Trail from 74th to 75th streets and the corridor will be made safer for pedestrians. Design elements will include monument markers, benches, trees and other landscaping, planters, pedestrian lighting, litter receptacles, and bicycle racks.
Sixth District City Councilman Kevin McManus is especially excited about upcoming changes to the parking area at 75th and Wornall. “It’s going to be beautiful,” he says. “There will be more green space. And the entire parking lot shifts closer to Waldo Pizza.” According to project manager Mario Vasquez, Broadway, which separates Waldo Pizza and other retail spaces from the parking lot, will be eliminated and replaced by 14- to 15-foot sidewalks ideal for outdoor restaurant seating.
The Wornall Redevelopment Plan was approved five years ago during McManus’ freshman year as a city representative and includes road reconstruction, Smart Sewer and water main improvements from 85th Street to Gregory.
The project has met with some delays. The most current one is acquiring temporary right of way for the 74th to 79th streets phase.
The first leg of the plan, 85th to 89th streets, was completed in 2019. The final phase, from 75th Street to Gregory, will begin during the 2023-24 fiscal period
“This project has been a collaborative effort between the neighborhood, businesses owners, and the city,” states McManus. “We know the community is really excited for these much-needed improvements and upgrades to the Wornall corridor.”
Wornall Road is one of the oldest streets in the city, having started as the Santa Fe Trail leading from Westport. Before 71 Highway was completed in the early ’90s, the street served as a major throughway for commuters in south Kansas City traveling to and from downtown. Businesses such as Aristocrat Motors, Jasper’s, Hen House, and UMB Bank reflected their patronage along the way. With 14,000 cars still traveling the 11-mile roadway, Wornall Road remains significant and befitting of a long-deserved makeover.