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WATCH: Kansas City Begins Tearing Down Blighted Homes

Laura Ziegler
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City tore down the first two blighted houses as part of the lastest phase of neighborhood revitalization.

If you just want to see the video, scroll down

It's makes for dramatic pictures but more importantly, it's improving the neighborhood.

Kansas City — in partnership with donated services from Kissick Construction and Industrial Wrecking — started tearing down blighted homes Tuesday morning in the 2000 block of Chelsea Ave. It's the second phase of a $10 million dollar program. 

Mayor Sly James says the city will start with 23 homes the  city owns in it's Land Bank.

"This is a good neighborhood, we need to get rid of these bad structures so it can grow," James said. "We're trying to address a problem that we've had for a long time and frankly didn't have the money to do during the recession."

Kansas City, Missouri, Police Chief Darryl Forté said getting rid of these decaying houses will help prevent crime. 

Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City, Missouri, Police Chief Darryl Forté and Mayor Sly James before the demolition of two blighted homes on Chelsea Ave.

"We talk about open air drug markets ... illegal dumping ... graffiti." The chief went on to say it was also a safety issue.

"The most important part to me is the welfare of our children. These are places they can wander into and possibly the structures collapse on them."

The city has been subsidizing the sale of some of these abandoned homes to the public for a dollar. Some 50 homes have been sold to buyers who've committed to investing in renovation of the homes, city officials said Tuesday. 

But City Manager Troy Schulte said the city hasn't been as successful as it had hoped with this program. He said the goal is to spur revitalization in the East 24th Street PAC Neighborhood.

"This structure behind us is one of those Land Bank properties," Schulte said. "It was offered for sale for a dollar, and surprise, surprise nobody wanted it,"Schulte said.

He said Tuesday's demolition was the start of a process to encourage reinvestment in some of the city's most blighted and crime-ridden communities. In a nod to the private companies assisting in that process, Schulte said they were saving the city some $600,000 dollars by donating their services.

East 23rd Street PAC community is bordered on the south and west by I-70, on the north and east by Truman Road and Van Brunt. 

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can find her at zieglerl@umkc.edu or on Twitter @laurazig.

I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions.
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