Populous Part of Collective Effort to Revitalize Historic Paseo Stairs in Kansas City
February 4, 2021
Volker Boulevard weaves along Brush Creek through Kansas City’s urban core, connecting east and west from Paseo Boulevard to the Country Club Plaza. The eastern termination of Volker Boulevard at Paseo is marked by a historic landmark, the well-known yet not often visited Paseo Stairs. The stone steps were built into the steep hillside leading up to the original Paseo High School, and aside from a fresh coat of paint in the 1980s, they haven’t been touched for over 70 years, as is evident in the crumbling stone pavers and overgrown brush in the surrounding site. Chris Goode, a Kansas City resident and owner of Ruby Jean’s Juicery, would run the stairs as a young athlete training for high school football. He returned in his twenties and started running them to get back into shape.
“A love developed, and a vision developed, and I knew that one day I wanted these stairs to be redeveloped into something that would be special for the east side of Kansas City, for the alumni of Paseo High School, for the current students, and for the community in general,” explains Goode.
Goode is working to bring his vision to life. His goal is to create a free outdoor fitness destination and multi-purpose site so more Kansas City residents enjoy the area much like he did growing up. There are very few free opportunities for outdoor fitness in the east side of Kansas City, and Goode hopes that the stairs can be a place that brings all walks of life together, helping to create a vibrancy in this neighborhood that is often overlooked for investment. He believes the Paseo Stairs can become an iconic destination, like the famous Rocky Steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, or the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Goode believes the healthier the city becomes, the better its residents will be, and there are quite a few people who agree with him.
Populous, along with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, Rockhurst University, Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City Parks and Recreation, and GEHA have joined forces with Goode to revitalize the area, starting with a massive cleanup campaign along the steps. The first cleanup event was in October 2019, and there have been a couple more events since then. In addition to cleanup efforts, Populous is donating design services so Goode can start fundraising efforts as a next step.
“We’re only as strong as our surrounding community,” explains Bruce Miller, Americas Managing Director for Populous. “The Paseo Stairs are located just down the road from our Kansas City headquarters, so it’s exciting to help revitalize an area that is already so well-known to many of us and could help draw even more people together, something that Populous has been in the business of doing for over forty years.”
Initial plans include resurfacing the iconic steps with shock-absorbent material, reinforcing the stone walls and adding solar lighting to run alongside the steps, adding public restrooms, building a walking trail and more. GEHA donated $10,000 as part of their company’s MOVE campaign to encourage employee health, and overall the project has raised approximately $100,000 with companies like Populous donating time, help and fundraising resources.
To get the latest updates on the Paseo Stairs revitalization project and learn how you can help, visit the group’s Facebook page.