On a sunny Saturday afternoon — possibly the last warm day of the year — more than 150 people gathered near 21st and Prospect in Kansas City, Missouri, to watch some dirt get turned over.
But for a community battling years of blight, it couldn’t have been a happier occasion. They were celebrating the groundbreaking of the KD Academy, a 24-hour child care facility that hopes to open in 2020.
“This was a very wonderful day, a day of celebration as it relates to reviving the east side, reviving a critical corridor … that has been known for a lot of things, but often not positivity,” Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said.
KD Academy will be a new, expanded home for the Kiddie Depot, which currently operates at 34th and Woodland. The new construction is funded, in part, by a citywide 1/8-cent sales tax. Co-founders Penny and Myron McCant have been operating the child care service since 2012.
“What we’ve done is we’ve been able to mitigate some of the circumstances for parents working the unorthodox shift, the standard working shift and the overnight shift,” Myron McCant said.
The new 14,000 square-foot facility will be able to serve 425 children, ranging from 6 weeks old to 12 years old.
McCant said they could have moved their business anywhere, but they wanted to go where there was the most need. Robinson, who represents the area at City Hall, said the Prospect corridor is an early learning desert.
“When you think about KD Academy, and the quality care that they provide and the early learning opportunities that they provide for working people … child care is a critical barrier to economic mobility. So to have this resource in the community, it’s a game changer,” Robinson said.
The roughly $3 million project is being paid for with a mix of private investment, funds from a one-cent sales tax for public improvements and the 1/8th-cent Central City Economic Development Sales Tax.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said this project is the perfect example of a public-private partnership in a part of town that’s often ignored.
“I grew up here … you don’t see a lot of stuff happen on Prospect all the time, and you particularly don’t see a lot of stuff happen on Prospect where you have two black business owners who are part of it," Lucas said. "And I’m excited that we get a chance to celebrate that.”
Lisa Rodriguez is the City Hall reporter and afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig.