City leaders applaud new development in Jazz District, blame lag on misconceptions of crime

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - After years of struggle, the historic Hotel Rochester reopened as revitalized apartments in the 18th & Vine Jazz District on Monday.

City leaders say the opening is a sign of continued progress in a district that is struggling to overcome misconceptions people have of the area.

"People who say 18th & Vine had been slowed or the progress is no longer moving are wrong," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said Monday. He pushed for the revitalization of the district when he was mayor of Kansas City.

Hopes were high in 1997 when the revitalized district and museums made their debut.

"We haven't done as much as we'd like to because things have been costly," Cleaver said. "We have three restaurants now, but we probably need about 10."

And between those restaurants, fake store fronts still line the streets. Almost every speaker at Monday's ribbon cutting defended the district's difficult growth. 

"It is always more difficult to redevelop urban areas than it is to redevelop green space," said Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

Cleaver claims a misconception of heavy crime has kept the Jazz District quiet.

"There is more crime on the Country Club Plaza than 18th & Vine, and the statistics bear that out," Cleaver said.

41 Action News fact checked that assertion. The city's own crime maps show in the last month, police got reports of 18 incidents from thefts to assault near the Plaza. At 18th and Vine, police received only nine reports.

However, the Plaza does have significantly larger crowds come through.

Despite the years and tens of millions of dollars invested here, supporters say 18th & Vine is priceless. 

"That's a part of the history, we've got to make sure it remains active," Cleaver said.

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