Apartment lawsuit shines light on gentrification

Posted at 5:32 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-31 22:48:25-04

A group of tenants at the Parade Park Homes affordable housing complex are suing management for, among other reasons, fears that rent will skyrocket during a $76 million renovation.

The housing complex is located near the 18th & Vine district, and some of the tenants say the revitalization efforts happening in the area will lead to gentrification.

Some of the tenants say rent may double, and they will be forced to move out.

David Daniels has lived at Parade Park Homes since 1998. He has heard construction near his home as crews work to revitalize 18th & Vine.

"We can look around and see downtown going up, 18th & Vine going up," he explained. "We knew something was going to happen over here eventually."

He said all the cleanup work and renovation plans have some tenants at Parade Park worried.

"It is very concerning," Daniels said. "Peoples' wages aren't going up but the rent is going up. Buildings are going up."

Daniels explained that the neighborhood has a rich history, and some of it could be lost if many of the tenants move out from the housing complex.

"A lot of things have happened here," he said. "You can't just tear them down and have those memories go away."

UMKC Architecture, Urban Planning and Design Project Director Michael Frisch said 18th & Vine is not the only metro area seeing changes in hopes of attracting more people.

"The one place that there has been gentrification is the west side in Kansas City," he explained.

Frisch said population needs to increase in some of Kansas City's urban areas, and as a way to attract people, city leaders may spruce up some neighborhoods.

Frisch points to the large amount of vacant homes in areas like the Ivanhoe neighborhood and Oak Park NW as reasons why other areas may see lots of changes in the years to come.

Frisch explained that other areas may also be impacted in the future as city leaders look into possibly expanding the Kansas City Streetcar route.

However, he said if city leaders decided to revitalize areas in the future, they should provide more affordable housing in the affected spots.

"We have to recognize incomes are not very high in Kansas City compared to the rest of the country," Frisch explained. "Every time that we allow those incentives to move, they need to do a set aside for affordable units."

In the meantime, Daniels hopes his neighborhood is not lost.

"I want to see what's coming," he said. "As far as history goes, let's make the history. Don't put the historians out, they have a story to tell."

Management has not officially said rent will increase at Parade Park Homes, but a group of tenants are continuing on with a lawsuit.

A hearing for the case will be held on June 15.



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