Kansas City, Kansas and Merriam, Kansas Tour
Gateway Plaza Townhomes Neighborhood Networks
Gateway Neighborhood Networks Center has provided an opportunity for more than 500 residents to participate in a variety of innovative programs in this multifamily development that is entirely Section 8. These programs include Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops, after school tutoring, Youth Computer Club, adult computer classes, employment programs that include resumé writing and job application skills, conflict resolution and life skills. The Center has been the catalyst for a number of public-private partnerships within the community that include HUD, the State Department of Commerce & Housing, the Kansas Development Finance Authority, Commercial Group, Inc., the City of Kansas City, Kansas, Mercantile Bank, Nations Bank, Douglas Bank, the Chamber of Commerce, and other local businesses and churches.
There are 149 apartments in the Gateway Plaza complex. The property has experienced a renaissance in recent years. Major demolition of the original 280 units, saw their number reduced to half. Then the new owners, Commercial Group, initiated a $5 million renovation of the remaining units to restore the integrity of this strategically located property.
5th Street Redevelopment Project
The Fifth Street Redevelopment Project envisions the revitalization of the Fifth Street Commercial Corridor. The long-time home of two mainstays of the Northeast Neighborhood, Douglass State Bank and Thatcher Funeral Home, Fifth Street is in the heart of the Enhanced Enterprise Community (EEC) as well as being located in immediate proximity to the current rush of housing initiatives that will renovate or add over three hundred housing units for convenient downtown living. This project is critical for several reasons. First, the Enhanced Enterprise Community (EEC) and the Northeast Sector of Kansas City, Kansas are underserved in terms of retail services. Second, like so many inner city landscapes, the Commercial Corridor is blighted. Following a familiar scenario, decline and decay have left this once vital neighborhood center open to unwanted criminal activities. Redevelopment will allow people to take back their street, as well as providing all the benefits and amenities of convenient shopping. Third, the Fifth Street Redevelopment area needs to be reassembled and cleared to enhance the community's opportunity to attract a private developer. Fourth, there are a number of very important independent Redevelopment projects occurring in the surrounding area. They include Mt. Zion Redevelopment, Turtle Hill Redevelopment, Jersey Creek Redevelopment, and Gateway Plaza Homes Project - all of which depend, in part, on the success of Fifth Street commercial rebirth. Fifth Street is the unifying force in the renewal of a neighborhood where housing innovation and the energy of business are creating a genuine community in the city.
Third Street Church of God Day Care Center
Open the door of the Third Street Child Care Center and immediately you are welcomed into a child-sized environment. There are bright colors, interesting toys and games all geared to instill the wonder and excitement of learning. The Child Care Center was funded under a 1996 Early Childhood Development Grant. They have room for 66 children from the ages of 2˝ to 5 years old. While serving the families living or working in the Kansas City, Kansas area, the Center is especially convenient for the residents of the Juniper Gardens Development in the Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority. It is located right next door. The goal of the Center is to build a good self-image, develop inner security and love for one's self, and to nurture a positive attitude towards learning. The curriculum is designed around interesting age-appropriate activities, and the children are served a nourishing breakfast and lunch along with two snacks.
Zion Park is the second phase of the ambitious Mt. Zion Redevelop-ment Project, one of the early pioneers transforming the housing market in downtown Kansas City, Kansas. Built by Kansas Home Builders, these 22 single-family homes are well on their way to completion. Because this part of the project was financed with State Housing Tax Credits, Zion Park offers families a unique homeownership opportunity, where they can rent a lease-to-own home and begin building equity immediately toward their purchase of the house. The program is an advantage in two ways. It will assist families in accumulating money towards a downpayment and grant homeowners credit toward the purchase price of the home over fifteen years by placing money in a reserve account when maintenance is performed on the house during the rental period. Zion Park Homes have an estimated market value of $90,000.
The Jersey South Project is located in the Enhanced Enterprise Community (EEC) in the Northeast sector of Kansas City, Kansas. This project covers 1-1/2 areas. Twelve new single family homes will be built from a leveraged investment pool that includes funding from Federal, Unified Government, and Private resources. Courtney Day is the builder and the project is sponsored by Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), a non-profit housing partner with long-standing national expertise. The development is a definite complement to the Mt. Zion Redevelopment Project directly to the East.
Chelsea Plaza is a 121-unit apartment and townhouse community located at 7th and Freeman, just north of the Turtle Hill Development area. The owners of this 20-year-old complex are planning a large-scale renovation in the near future. Transformation of Chelsea's physical image will contribute to the overall appeal of the surrounding urban neighborhood. It also provides another tangible demonstration of the vitality of the housing market in the community. Chelsea Plaza offers affordable housing in the heart of the City. One hundred and ten of the 121 units are occupied by low and moderate income families.
Turtle Hill Housing Community
Turtle Hill is housing development under the auspices of one of the City's premier CDCs, a faith-based group called City Vision Ministries. Using CDBG money, City Vision is building houses in a wonderful downtown neighborhood. The new houses compliment the character of the existing Victorian and Craftsman homes that dot the area. Their work has spearheaded a movement to rehabilitate and refurbish these older homes, bringing together and renewing the entire neighborhood. The Turtle Hill Redevelopment Project covers 70 acres, and when completed will include twenty-six new single-family homes along with nine purchase/rehab/resell structures. The financing for the development comes from leveraging Federal, City Government and Private funds. Development will be completed in two phases: Residential Component and a Commercial Component. The Residential Component will include acquisition of property, demolition of structures, construction of new homes, rehabilitation of homes, and home improvement grants. The Commercial Component will include acquisition of property, demolition, and site clearance, and construction of commercial space.
Mt. Zion Estates
This housing development showcases another of the actively involved faith-based groups that thrive in Kansas City, Kansas. Under the leadership of Pastor Bacchus of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, this development demonstrated that there was a market for upscale single-family homes in the inner city. With leveraged financing that included Federal, Unified Government and Private resources, Zion Estates has proved to be the linchpin for a housing market revival in the Northeast neighborhood.
It is located in the Enhanced Enterprise Community (EEC) and covers approximately 30 acres. The builder of the project is Kansas Unlimited/Kansas Home Builders. Zion Estates is the first phase of a multiphase program. Nearly all of the 16 homes in this part of the subdivision have already been sold with starting prices in the $80,000 range. Because of the success of this first phase, construction on the 22 homes in the second phase of the project, Zion Park, is almost complete. The total Mt. Zion Redevelopment Project when completed will add 59 new housing units to the housing stock of the Northeast area of Kansas City, Kansas. The initiative of this faith-based group has been a catalyst for many other programs.
The internationally known housing group, Habitat for Humanity, is in the process of building two houses in the 3rd and Richmond area to complement two in the area that were built last year. The houses have been built on land donated by the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Demonstrating its continued commitment to the Northeast area, the church has also donated labor to the construction effort.
The Mt. Carmel Housing Redevelopment Projects is another of Kansas City, Kansas' faith-based partnerships located in the Enhanced Enterprise Community. The project plans to replace an area of decaying and dilapidated structures with new housing, townhouse units designed for the elderly, new amenities to rebuild infrastructure, and a privately financed neighborhood community center. The plan is to build forty-four single family houses and other multi-purpose facilities. A Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District has been established to aid in the financing of this project along with leveraging federal and private funds.
As an outgrowth of the "City Beautiful" movement, many rewarding projects, both in architecture and landscape design, were implemented across the nation in the first decade of the 20th Century. The development of the Parkwood area in 1908, the city's first planned modern subdivision, was undoubtedly influenced by the "City Beautiful" movement. The entire area, with its tree-shaped lots and tree-lined streets, was designed to follow the natural contour of the land.
Socio-economic trends had a direct effect on the type of housing stock built. The more elaborate, high-style homes were built for people who could afford the expense of upkeep and commuter travel. Later, the increased accessibility of Parkwood due to the advent of street cars and automobiles aided in the greatly increased population of the late teens through the 1920's. Smaller homes then became the standard rather than the exception.
18th & Quindaro
18th and Quindaro is an urban success story where commitment, energy and spirit have made a tangible difference to the community. At one time, 18th and Quindaro was one of the roughest areas in Kansas City, Kansas. It deserved its reputation as a gathering place for drug dealers, prostitutes, and pimps. But no more. The United Nation of Islam, a non-profit group with its headquarters in Temple Hills, MD, has used their message of self-help and self-sufficiency to set an example that has led to the transformation of this area. Because of their efforts, pockets of blight have given way to creation of viable businesses. Their commercial developments to date include: Your Service Station (13th and Quindaro) which is a gas station and auto repair shop, Your Super Market (17th and Quindaro) bringing a much needed grocery store and bakery to the neighborhood, Your Variety Store, a small home appliance store housed in what was a marginal convenience store, and Your Diner, a comfortable, homey restaurant serving delicious vegetarian cuisine. There is no federal or state funding in these projects, nor is there any private foundation funding. In the spirit of a true grassroots organization, what is earned is plowed back into the business.
The historic Westheight Neighborhood Association was incorporated in 1996, but represents the rejuvenation of a neighbor-hood organization that has existed for many, many years. This is a unique group of houses built primarily in the 1920s and
1930s, and vary in style from Victorian to Prairie Arts and Crafts bungalows.
The Neighborhood Association used a grant in 1998 to make physical improvements in the neighborhood, such establishing new garden beds, planting new trees, maintaining vacant lots and common areas, boarding up three vacant homes, and had three members train for the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Patrol. They have applied for another Neighborhood Self-Help Fund grant for 1999. Their top three priorities for this grant are reducing crime in the neighborhood, reducing traffic and trash in the neighborhood, and promoting the aesthetic quality of their neighborhood.
The Pala Vista Redevelopment Project is located in the Enhanced Enterprise Community (EEC) along the Seventh Street Corridor between Central Avenue and Kansas Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. The Unified Government partnered with Construction Management, Inc., to create a twenty-one-home subdivision. The original plan was for a two-year build out but all of the lots sold in the first year. Homes in Pala Vista were planned to be sold in the $80,000 to $90,000 range but have now ranged to over $200,000 in value. This project has been highly successful and has won an award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This project stands as an example of what can be accomplished with a highly capable developer, dynamic government leaders, and a supportive community.
The Foxmoor Development, located at 89th and State Avenue, is being developed by ECI Development Corporation, with the sponsorship of El Centro, Inc. and the Unified Governments of Wyandotte County. Foxmoor was originally planned as a duplex subdivision. Following the foreclosure on the subdivision, Brotherhood Bank & Trust donated the twenty undeveloped lots in the subdivision to ECI Development in 1995. The Unified Governments also made available a total of $481,855 in HOME disaster funds leftover from the flood of 1993 and $50,000 in CHDO funds.
Upon completion, the development will consist of 18 units, one duplex and sixteen single-family detached homes. The homes all include basements, decks, two-car garages and range from 1200 to 1300 square feet. Special financing is available for qualified buyers below 80% of the area median income. With the "soft" second mortgage made possible with the disaster funding, qualified buyers can obtain a $95,000 home for approximately $70,000.
ECI Development and El Centro consider the first phase of Foxmoor a great success and hope to complete the subdivision within the next year. In this partnership between the government, a non profit, and the private sector, quality new housing has been made available to Wyandotte County families at very affordable prices.
South Park Neighborhood
Local residents will gladly tell you that CDBG funds made the revitalization of South Park possible. Funding improvements in the infrastructure included street lights, water, sewers, paved streets, curbs and gutters. Along with housing rehabilitation, acquisition, relocation, and demolition, other changes began to occur that stabilized and transformed this quiet near-in neighborhood. Relocated families built new houses on cleared sites, developers began to buy vacant land and build new houses. Most of the original residents were able to remain in the neighborhood. Grown children moved back to raise their families. Although always a predominately African-American community, it now is a racially mixed income neighborhood. It is a success story to those who live there, as well as to the City and federal officials who worked to make it happen.