Re-purposed Nineteenth Century Kansas City Warehouses are Transforming the West Bottoms 12th Street Bridge Historic District into a Sea of Shoppers for Vintage Wares

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An historic area in Kansas City (the West Bottoms 12th Street Bridge District) has transformed from blight to one of America's largest indoor, year-round antique and vintage shopping districts, attracting thousands to its First Fridays Warehouse Weekend event.

logo West Bottoms Business District Association

We felt we could make a difference and tenaciously worked to retain the area’s authenticity and vibe.

Ironically, the “angel” that started the revitalization of the West Bottoms 12th Street Bridge Historic District decades ago was called “The Edge of Hell.” The neighborhood of picturesque nineteenth century warehouses and industrial buildings was largely abandoned and blighted with litter, graffiti and overgrown weeds, before Full Moon Productions, creator of the popular haunted attractions, The Edge of Hell, and The Beast, took on the challenge and spruced up properties and open spaces around the historic buildings and bridge.

Fast forward to 2015, when the charm of the old, gargoyle-topped buildings and the allure of shopping for vintage jewelry, décor and other one-of-a-kind quality items attracts thousands of shoppers to West Bottoms’ First Friday Warehouse Weekends.

The thirty-plus shops in this four block, one-million-plus square feet neighborhood make up one of the largest indoor, year-round antique and vintage districts in the country. Shoppers often arrive hours before the stores and shops open at 8:30 A.M. on First Friday Warehouse Weekend, in order to have first cut at the new wares. And if a unique shopping experience wasn’t enough, visitors also can take in the street scene with the Festival of the Full Moon atmosphere that includes food trucks, live music, café seating and free entertainment.

The manly art of ‘mantiquing’
Shop owners and artisans in the West Bottoms 12th Street Bridge Historic District report a growing trend of men on the hunt for “mantiques” – well aged furniture, tools, signs other curiosities with a masculine appeal. Most First Friday Warehouse Weekend shoppers, they say, are looking for unusual items that reflect their individual likes and quirks, and that many come just to explore, dine and check out true antiques or antiques re-purposed, upcycled items with a new story to tell, e.g., vintage luggage outfitted into tables, nostalgic parking meter lamps, salvaged metal caster bookends or jewelry reassembled from various vintage pieces incorporating keys, beads and pendants among the unique merchandise.

Just like the re-purposed products that draw visitors, the re-purposed original Kansas City is drawing attention from urban planners and re-development specialists. Mayor Sly James has referred to the West Bottoms 12th Street Bridge Historic District as Kansas City’s “newest frontier,” emerging with lots of energy, vitality and personality.

“We saw this district as a diamond in the rough, an urban oasis of multi-story buildings with arched doorways and original old staircases, freight elevators and exposed brick,” said Amber Arnett-Bequeaith, VP Full Moon Production Commercial Development and Vice President of West Bottoms Business District Association. “We felt we could make a difference and tenaciously worked to retain the area’s authenticity and vibe. Coupled with the city’s investment in new infrastructure, we now accommodate the more than 400,000 people who visit the district annually, and help them have the time of their life.”

About West Bottoms Business District Association:
West Bottoms Business District Association westbottoms.com has members committed to directly support the vital work and objectives of the West Bottoms Business District Association and preserve the integrity of this historic area.

About Full Moon Productions:
Full Moon Productions owns and operates world-class haunted house attractions since 1975 and has always made a priority of helping children’s charities in the community. http://www.fullmoonprod.com

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Stacey McBride
O'Neill Marketing & Event Management
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