Business owner fighting back after city seizes building through eminent domain

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Bulldozers at 63rd and Prospect are a sign of big progress for a long-embattled development. After years of cleaning up after a developer, Kansas City crews are digging to find and clean up any asbestos.

Sitting nearby along 63rd, Wayne Cooper's vacuum store is lined with closing signs on the sidewalk. It isn't the first time he has had to put them out.

"We were positive we were going to have to go," he said.

In 2008, Wayne said a developer signed a $500,000 contract to buy his building and get the Citadel Plaza project off the ground.

"Never did happen," Cooper said. "They never did pay out the contract."

Years later, he got another offer from the city. This time, the offer was a much lower $92,500.

"I think it is an absolute rip off," he said.

He didn't have much of a choice. The city took control of the property through eminent domain because the property was needed to get that portion of 63rd and Prospect ready for redevelopment after years of being stagnant.

"I was hopeful! I thought it was a great project!" Rick Hurst said.

Ten years ago, Hurst was helping hunt for tenants for the Citadel Plaza project before it fell through. Since then, he has had clients find success just a few blocks away.

"This is a 180 degree turn around," he said, pointing to the newly-renovated Penner Plaza, a small but promising part of 63rd.

Hurst said the local development community is still hopeful Citadel Plaza can be saved.

"I would say 'cautiously optimistic' would be the term," he said.

After a final appraisal, city officials said Cooper's building is valued at $135,000 and he has the right to appeal—a right Cooper plans to exercise.

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