At 150 feet tall and with 36 fully enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas, Pennway Point ferris wheel has the potential to become an iconic part of Kansas City’s skyline.
For the past few years, DaVinci KC and 3D Development have been working to create a new vision for the forgotten space between I-35 and the Pennway bridges in the form of a new entertainment district called Pennway Point. Developers say there will be a carefully curated selection of KC’s best restaurants, bars and retail shops, including several new businesses, most of which aren’t set to open until 2024.
However, this month, the first phase of the development is set to open. That includes a mini golf course, refreshments stand and the ferris wheel, which developers are calling an observation wheel.
“It is more than just a ride; it’s an experience,” says Curtis Parks, Icon Experiences co-founder and ferris wheel owner and operator. The folks at Icon plan to coordinate special events such as marriage proposals and gender reveals, with lights and photographers to help create experiences and memories for customers. “We like to celebrate, from everyday victories to world championships of your sporting teams,” says Eli Stovall, Icon Experiences co-founder. Icon also owns the St. Louis Wheel and the Capitol Wheel in Washington D.C.
Dante Passantino, managing partner of DaVinci KC and a Kansas City native, says, “We’re trying to create something that screams Kansas City, that’s not been done before here.” DaVinci KC, a master tenant developer, has big plans for this historic pocket of Kansas City. The run-down six-acre lot at the former Carter-Waters industrial site has lain vacant for years. DaVinci KC plans to reinvigorate the area with new modern shops, restaurants and entertainment venues while still preserving the authentic character of the historic industrial buildings at the site.
The old Funkhouser building will be transformed into DaVinci KC’s original Talegate concept, a venue that will put its own spin on the famous Midwestern tailgate atmosphere. The 30,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor space will host a variety of events, from concerts to movie nights to game day activities.
An “elevated burger and cocktail joint,” Beef and Bottle, will also be a part of the Talegate building, serving up special Wagyu beef selections from local KC Cattle Company. Next door, in the former Pennway Oil Building, there will be Barrel Hall, a 6,000-square-foot space that will house several food and drink spots including Boulevard Brewery’s Barrel-Aged Tasting Bar, Austrian sausage grill restaurant Würstl and the Bull Creek Whisky Bar. In The Smoke Shack, a wood-timbered canopy constructed from 100-year old reclaimed timber that will be attached to Barrel Hall, customers can witness Chef J BBQ’s live working smokehouse and grab a bite to eat.
The alleyway between Talegate and Barrel Hall will be known as Neon Alley and will be filled with dozens of vintage Kansas City neon signs curated by the Lumi Neon Museum.
“Everything is meant to kind of compliment each other to create a space that is uniquely Kansas City,” says Passantino.