Jesse Clyde Nichols
Jesse Clyde Nichols (August 23, 1880 - February 16, 1950), better known as J. C. Nichols, was a prominent developer of commercial and residential real estate in Kansas City. He was born in Olathe, Kansas, attended the University of Kansas and Harvard University. His developments include the Country Club Plaza, the first suburban shopping center in the United States and the Country Club District, the largest contiguous master-planned community in the United States.
He called his method "planning for permanence," for his objective was to "develop whole residential neighborhoods that would attract an element of people who desired a better way of life, a nicer place to live and would be willing to work in order to keep it better." Nichols invented the percentage lease, where rents are based on tenants' gross receipts. The percentage lease is now a standard practice in commercial leasing across the United States. Nichols was prominent in Kansas City civic life, being involved in the creation of the Liberty Memorial, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Midwest Research Institute, as well as the development of Kansas City University, now the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His philosophies about city planning greatly influenced other developments in the United States, including Beverly Hills and the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, as well as Shaker Heights, Ohio. Modern outdoor shopping centers, now common in the United States, share a common ancestor in the Country Club Plaza, which opened in Kansas City in 1923. The Urban Land Institute's J. C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development is named for him. Moreover, the New Urbanists, developers who design to combat suburban sprawl, look to the Country Club District as a model for modern developments.
Controversial restrictive covenants 
J.C. Nichols relied on restrictive covenants to control the uses of the lands in the neighborhoods he developed. Most of the covenants restricted the lands to residential uses, and contained other features such as setback and free space requirements. However, homes in the Country Club District were restricted with covenants that prohibited African Americans and Jews from owning or occupying the homes, unless they were servants. Nichols did not invent the practice, but he used it to effectively bar ethnic minorities from living in his properties during the first half of the century. His restrictive covenant model was later adopted by the federal government to help implement similar policies in other regions of the United States. Ultimately, the 1948 Supreme Court decision Shelley v. Kraemer made such covenants unenforceable. Nevertheless, covenants remained on the deeds to properties developed by J.C. Nichols for decades after the Supreme Court decision because of the practical difficulty of changing them. (The deed restrictions in most neighborhoods renew automatically every twenty to twenty-five years unless a majority of the homeowners agree to change them with notarized votes.) In 2005, Missouri passed a law allowing the governing bodies of homeowner's associations to delete restrictive covenants from deed restrictions without a vote of the members. To this day, the Country Club District is predominantly white, and it is among the wealthiest, most sought-after neighborhoods in the United States, and has still been plagued with numerous accusations of racial profiling against minorities by police and security officers in the area.
In 1970, members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) were charged with pipe bombing the home of J.C. Nichols, among other places in Kansas City. Three SDS members were convicted. See United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Western Division (Kansas City), Criminal Case Files (1879- 1972), Case 23498.
Further reading 
Schirmer, Sherry Lamb. A City Divided: The Racial Landscape of Kansas City, 1900-1960. Columbia, Missouri : University of Missouri Press, 2002.
McKenzie, Evan. Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government. Yale University Press, 1996.
Robert Pearson and Brad Pearson. The J. C. Nichols Chronicle: The Authorized Story of the Man and His Company, 1880–1994. Lawrence, Kansas: Country Club Plaza Press--distributed by the University Press of Kansas, 1994.
Worley, William S. J.C. Nichols and the shaping of Kansas City : innovation in planned residential communities. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1990.
- Planning for Permanence -- the speeches of J.C. Nichols
- Nichols Prize Home Page
- The Urban Land Institute, J.C. Nichols, and the Ethnic Cleansing Tradition
- Home Ownership, Self-Determination, Restrictive Covenants, Redistricting....,
- Unenforceable racial covenants have lingering legacy in Kansas City area