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HOK’s Lynn Carlton Shares Her Vision for Kansas City’s Inclusive Future

Lynn Carlton, planning leader in HOK’s Kansas City studio, contributed an essay on the city’s growth and trajectory as part of the Kansas City Business Journal’s 20th Anniversary edition honoring “Women Who Mean Business.”

Carlton was named to the 2019 class of “Women Who Mean Business,” a program that recognizes female leaders across various industries.

Excerpted from the Kansas City Business Journal:

Our region’s health starts with a vibrant city center. Fifteen years ago, I had the privilege of working on the downtown master plan for Kansas City at a time when our ambitions — and our city — looked quite different. Since then, it has been wonderful to see Kansas City flourish. We have reaped the benefits of visionary leadership, strategic investments, a unified business community and a commitment to innovation.

With accolades from national media, a hot housing market and a spate of downtown development, it’s easy to start feeling like we’ve arrived. But if we want Kansas City to thrive over time, we must remember that Downtown remains a work in progress.

If we take our foot completely off the gas, we will forfeit opportunities for innovation. But if we continue speeding forward without pausing to reflect, the growth could outpace our infrastructure and leave some residents behind. Our downtown is at a crossroads.

As we attempt to navigate this crossroads and chart a path for sustainable, inclusive growth, we must answer two questions:

1. How can we support developers in their efforts to create thoughtful, iconic projects that will enhance Kansas City’s brand and catapult our region into the next decade?

2. As this growth is occurring, how can we prioritize inclusiveness, affordability and accessibility and build a city that truly supports all of our people?

Kansas City must be more than just a great place for visitors. With thoughtful leadership, careful planning and forward-thinking policies that encourage the city and developers to think outside the box, create housing options for everyone and a connected public realm, we will create an inclusive city where all our people can live, work and play together.

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