Kirkwood City Council do not vote on Magic House's expansion pla - KMOV.com

Kirkwood City Council do not vote on Magic House's expansion plans, for now

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Rendering of proposed Magic House renovations (Credit: The Magic House) Rendering of proposed Magic House renovations (Credit: The Magic House)
KIRKWOOD (KMOV.com) -

On Thursday, the Kirkwood City Council did not vote on plans for the Magic House to expand. Some council members and neighbors are expressing concerns about those plans.

The children's museum wants to add 40 parking spaces to its existing lot, and undergo 5,200 square feet in building improvements including connecting a corridor between two wings, extending dining space, and adding programming and office space. The council must give approval because the Magic House needs its special use permit amended in order to continue with the plans.

Neighbors who are against the proposal are citing a letter the Magic House issued in 2000 that said the museum will "not expand easterly." However, the Magic House argues the letter was written to assure neighbors on Angenette that it would not buy houses on the street, and since the property in question is not on Angenette, leaders at the Magic House still feel like they are keeping their word. A spokesperson for the Magic House also told News 4 the former home owner approached them about the sale, and they would not have gone looking.

Jim Hauschultz lives on Angenette Avenue just east of the Magic House.

"They drew a line, like drawing a line in the sand and they crossed it," Hauschultz said.

Click here to read the letter The Magic House sent to the City of Kirkwood

Anyone who has visited the museum or lives nearby knows parking is a problem. Guests often end up parking on side streets or even in the lots of nearby businesses. Magic House leaders said the additional parking spaces would take that burden off neighbors and make it safer for children so they don't have to walk across the street. But, some city council members say they don’t want to see all of Kirkwood “paved over.”

"We have been managing without this parking, we really didn't think it was an opportunity," Carrie Hutchcraft of the Magic House said. "We weren't actively looking to expand but once opportunity came along we felt we needed it for the benefit of visitors and neigbors who have to deal with parking encroaching on their spaces." 

In addition to the neighbor’s concerns, city council members, including Paul Ward and Maggie Duwe, are also worried about the financial impact on the Kirkwood School District. Each time the Magic House buys and tears down a house, the school district, which is already struggling financially, loses property tax income.

However, the Magic House argues it is only one house and they support the district in other ways, for example, inviting Kirkwood students to visit the museum at no cost and working on a grant to add programming spaces at buildings in the Kirkwood district. Still, some council members say there may only be one house at issue this time, but the museum has bought other houses in the past and this may set a precedent for buying more houses in the future.

City Council members News 4 spoke with stress they appreciate and do not question the educational value the Magic House brings to the community, but they have concerns about expansion plans.

News 4 reached out to the Kirkwood School District but did not hear back.

Kirkwood officials said the plan will be discussed again at a meeting on March 2.

Click here to read the statement The Magic House issued regarding the extended parking lot

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