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Man transforms KC neighborhood with new parks and homes

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Posted at 9:29 AM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 10:29:50-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One house on one block turned into one golf course and created a change within one entire neighborhood.

Chris Harris is best known for tearing down the house he grew up in near East 40th Street and Wayne Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, in order to build a pitch and putt golf course.

He had previously bought land across the street to build the Harris Park Midtown Sports & Activities Center complete with a basketball court, playground, picnic tables and more.

“We just want to continue our journey of cleaning up this neighborhood,” Harris explained.

For roughly 20 years, Harris has had a hand in beautifying the Ivanhoe and Manheim Park neighborhoods. From helping create Ivanhoe Park at East 43rd Street and Brooklyn Avenue, to cleaning up overgrown lots near East 44th and Flora Avenue. Now, his focus is on buying houses in the area and renovating them.

“When you walk in and you see something nice and beautiful, you become that. You get that feeling of the nice and beautiful sensation,” he explained.

He hopes his efforts create a contagious sense of pride where others feel compelled to invest in their properties and utility companies and the city feels obligated to repair damaged power lines and clean up alleys.

“We’re trying to change some of those perspectives and mindsets of people outside of the neighborhood and inside of the neighborhood,” Harris said.

He remembers the parents of his friends wouldn’t let them spend the night at his house as a child because they thought the neighborhood was bad. Harris has made it his life’s mission to prove that stereotype wrong.

“It took a long time for this land to get blighted and it’s going to take us a long time to clean this land up and our mindsets up,” he said determinedly.