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City Manager Proposes $27 Million In New Spending At Kansas City's 18th And Vine

Laura Spencer
KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri officials and leaders on Thursday morning gathered at the intersection of 18th and Vine to announce a revitalization plan that would require a city commitment of $27.6 million — nearly $10 million more than proposed in January.

If approved by the City Council, city bonds would be tapped to pay for about a dozen projects over the next three years. Private funds would also be leveraged. 

City Manager Troy Schulte called it an "important day for the city."

Schulte said crafting the plan took a little longer than the original estimate of 60 days, with delays caused partly by the election to renew the city's earnings tax. And, Schulte said, he wanted to make sure his team took a comprehensive approach.

"One of the things that I think the district has always suffered from is, we do a project and then we wait five or six years until we can scrape up enough money to do another project. As a result, there's been a perception that 18th and Vine has never lived up to expectations," Schulte said. 

This includes all properties in the district, between 17th Terrace and 19th Street. 

"Over the next three years — if the council allocates the funds — we would set on a mission to redevelop all the remaining parcels in the district," he said. "That total is $27.6 million in needs, but we think it's the last dollars that we would need to get the synergies, to get the redevelopment occurring along this section of 18th Street." 

Schulte said the project would be a public-private partnership, and the city would solicit private development proposals for renting additional retail space and building additional housing. He said adding vibrancy and density to the district and connecting 18th and Vine to the Crossroadswere priorities. 

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Proposed improvements include gateway plazas on the southeast and southwest corners of 18th and Paseo, with a fountain and landscaping.

The goal, Schulte said, is to "get 18th and Vine to a point where it can stand on its own and be an anchor for further redevelopment in and around the surrounding neighborhoods. My recommendation is, if we're going to do this, we ought to consider spending up to $27.6 million and doing it right and declaring victory once and for all at 18th and Vine." 

City Councilmen Jermaine Reed and Quinton Lucas represent the city's third district and spearheaded the original $18 million resolution, which the council sent to Schulte in January.

The increase in proposed funding, Reed said, reflects that "we are doing everything that we can to sustain the quality of this historic landmark in Kansas City, for certainly generations to come."  

Next steps include requesting public feedback over the next 30 days. The city hosts a public meeting on May 9 at 6 p.m. at the Gregg Klice Community Center. City Council members will then review the recommendations in committee, before it goes before the full council. 

Some of the proposed projects include:

  • American Jazz Museum, 1616 E. 18th Street. $1.7 million to design and construct an expansion of the Blue Room and a new cafe. Funds would also pay for exhibit and lobby improvements at the American Jazz Museum and equipment upgrades at the Gem Theater. 
  • Buck O'Neil Education & Research Center, 1824 Paseo. $4.2 million to construct a lobby, elevator, stair tower, and ready two floors for commercial and office space. Building would be transferred from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to the city, and the NLBM would lease, operate and maintain it.
  • Black Archives of Mid-America, 1722 E. 17th Terrace. $747,241 for a new entrance and visitors' center. 
  • Gateway Plazas, 18th and Paseo. $1,028,821 million for a gateway entrance into the district including landscaping and a fountain. 
  • Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, 1714 E. 18th Street. $1.8 million to plan for a new headquarters and performance space. The Boone Theater at 18th and Highland is under consideration.  
  • Parking Lot, 18th and Lydia. $1,182,602 for lighted surface parking. 
  • Retail development, along 18th Street between Paseo and Vine. $5.6 million for a new retail development, including restaurants, retail, office, and residential. $4.9 million to tear down structures, but stabilize facades of historic buildings at 1814, 1816, 1820 and 1822 Vine. 
  • Streetscape, along 18th Street. $3,043,350 million to add street and pedestrian lighting and to connect the Bruce R. Watkins overpass to the 18th and Vine district. 

The full plan is available on the city's website

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter, @lauraspencer.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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