Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cordish Co. says proposed dress code law ought to apply citywide

The Kansas City Star
Breaking News

A proposed dress code ordinance is unfairly aimed at the downtown entertainment district, and any such regulations should apply throughout Kansas City, Cordish Co. officials say.

The developers of the Power & Light District oppose the municipal law, saying any dress code regulations infringe on the rights of businesses. They say the current dress codes at district establishments are needed for both taste and safety reasons.

“It appears to us it was all about the Power & Light District,” said Zed Smith, director of asset management for Baltimore-based Cordish.

Smith and Kevin Battle, general manager of the nine-block downtown district, met Friday for an hour with The Kansas City Star’s editorial board.

Cordish had previously declined to publicly discuss the proposed ordinance intended to bar businesses from arbitrarily defining the length of jewelry, hair, sleeves, shirts or pants, or the type of shoes worn by patrons. The ordinance would regulate dress codes at any “businesses or facilities” that have received tax abatements, relief or incentives. That would include the entertainment district and the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District.

But Cordish and some council members think the ordinance is worded so broadly that it would bar dress codes at business such as H&R Block. Smith said if the council imposes dress code regulations, then it is “only fair that it apply to every business establishment in Kansas City.”

City Councilwoman Beth Gottstein, the major sponsor of the ordinance now pending in the council’s Planning and Zoning Committee, said Friday that the city attorney’s office says the ordinance is worded to affect only businesses open to the public.

Gottstein said the proposal is not intended to focus on Cordish, but on developments receiving tax assistance.

“When there are public dollars involved, I think our stewardship is all the more important. The facilities belong to everyone,” she said. “The intent is not to be the decency police or the fashion police. But we have to be especially protective of public accommodations.”

Last year a public outcry arose when Cordish and some of its tenants imposed dress codes that some thought were inconsistently enforced and discriminatory against African-American males. The ban includes chains or necklaces worn by men, untucked shirts, white T-shirts, work boots and long, baggy clothing.

Smith said Friday that there were problems last year with one tenant and that Cordish worked to ensure the dress code was consistently enforced. He also said that the dress code is in effect only when alcohol is served in the evening.

“We have been working with the city and made adjustments,” Smith said. “We thought it was behind us.”

Smith explained that parts of the dress code are rooted in safety concerns to prevent gang paraphernalia from being worn, such as the ban on sagging pants or men wearing oversized jewelry, while others are a matter of decency and taste, such as barring men from wearing tank tops, which expose their armpits.

Cordish wants to create a safe and welcoming environment for a special night out downtown, Smith said.

“It becomes a huge nightclub,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of people are dressed up.”

To reach DeAnn Smith, call 816-234-4412 or send e-mail to


Nick said...

Cordish can suck my big fat...

I Travel for JOOLS said...

Hey if you want government to literally run your life, then go for it. They're taking over everything from where you can smoke to what you can wear and taxing the rest. Soon they'll be regulating your farts.

And those evil corporations and businesses, they're the worst aren't they. The funny thing is, if we bothered to look beyond our nose and into such things as our pension plans or 401K's and the like, we'd find out that "they" are really "us". But it's much more fun to have a villain to attack isn't it, ESPECIALLY if you're a politician.

Dan said...

Let's go black tie everywhere, all the time!

Gottstein is right on this - they've dreamed up a dress code to keep black youths from visiting their property, and the only proper way to accomplish that goal is to locate a place in remote suburbs with police forces who will pull over anyone guilty of DWB.

kc recruiter said...

something about the sound of a "special night out downtown" makes me feel my creepy uncle might be describing it.

i'd love to see the demographics at cordish. guessing it isn't minority owned business?

Amira said...

I'm a female and I love the dress code at Cordish. I hate getting hit on by guys dressed nasty. It just takes away from my whole night. I don't understand why guys don't understand that they have a better chance of picking up a girl if they look nice instead of grungy. I like having the option to go somewhere that ickily dressed people won't be. It makes me feel like I'm not the only person NOT slumming it.