Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce focuses on Kansas City's east side

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the United Way have created a new non-profit agency to try to revitalize the city's Troost Corridor.

The Urban Neighborhood Initiative, Inc. is intended to bring together several neighborhood groups and form partnerships with other business and civic groups.

It will focus on an area from Troost east to 71 Highway, and from 23rd Street south to 51st Street.

Map of the Troost corridor area (PDF): http://media2.kshb.com/pdf/UNITroostCorridorMap.pdf

Margaret May knows every block of the Ivanhoe neighborhood.

Some blocks have abandoned houses that need to be torn down.

May, the executive director of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council, said those houses sadden her.

"I want to know the story.. what happened? Who owned this house?  Did they leave it to their children and it was turned into a drug house? " she asks.
 
She can also show us the new homes, like these at East 42nd and Woodland, built by a private developer.

May said, "I think there's eight under construction right now. You can see the men over there working."

Ivanhoe is one of seven neighborhoods the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce has targeted for help.

"We've done all sorts of things except actually do. So now, we're here to to actually talk about doing, and getting something done and connecting some dots," said KCMO Mayor Sly James at a news conference to announce the targeted area.

The area has seen plans come and go over the years.

May says the Chamber needs to invest money, not just create another plan.

"It's my understanding that they have people who are willing to step up to the plate and put some dollars with the talk," she said.

But no one on Monday's panel could name a specific project for the corridor.

Dianne Cleaver, a United Way Vice-Chair, acknowledged it could be frustrating to hear about a new initiative without any specific projects.  

"I am very happy to hear that Margaret and the other neighborhood leaders..... they've got plans. So this should get us very quickly to to those first actions," Cleaver said.

Chamber leaders say they have commitments to help from several organizations, but actual projects depend on what neighborhood groups want after they have some more planning meetings.

Those meetings start March 6.

The area is similar to, but smaller than the Green Impact Zone, which is has similar goals to revitalize the city's east side.

The zone recently announced that Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation would turn an abandoned school into new housing.

Chamber leaders hope to build off that kind of new development.

It's part of the Chamber's Big 5 goals to improve the KC area.

Some donations have already been collected to jump-start the non-profit's operations.

The Chamber of Commerce has more information on each of the Big 5 goals at http:// bit.ly/ yRrry1.

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