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Frustration mounts for 18th & Vine biz owners looking for solutions to crime, blight in district

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Posted at 4:57 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 18:24:31-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After two recent homicides on separate weeks in the historic 18th and Vine district, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas, members of the KCPD along with about a dozen business owners in the areas met to look for solutions on Friday.

At times, tempers flared, but the meeting was productive in sharing concerns.

"We need to have cameras; We need to have ongoing security; We need to have clean up; Pick up week; We need all those things it just can't be one thing," Clyde McQueen, with the Full Employment Council, said.

"They're not putting investment down here in this area, so it's kind of hard to redevelop any project down here when there's no funding, there's no lending opportunities for our community," Club Mardi Gras owner Lisa Walker Yeager said.

The empty store fronts along with blighted properties hampers economic growth according to Walker-Yeager,

"One of the problems that we do have is because the city owning 100 percent of the blight there's no comparables here within this area," Yeager said.

Mayor Lucas said since it's a historic district, there's more hurdles to demolishing some of the older buildings, but points out the district needs to attract private ownership to revive the buildings.

"We need to find businesses that we can put into some of these buildings; We need to find opportunities for business owners to be a part of it," Lucas said.

That blight can attract crime, as several shootings including two deaths in June have made headlines.

"At night when things are dark, that's when things happen," McQueen said. "That's why we need to light this district up with lights cameras and the police."

To help fund that, Lucas and others on the city council have proposed a Community Improvement District (CID), which would place a sales tax on the district to help funnel in money for things like trash pick up and security.

"Likely will have to be an enhanced off-duty presence but we want to make the off-duty presence is one where we communicate with the business ownership in the area," Lucas said.

Starting tonight, KCPD will patrol the district with more frequency.

"We're here to serve the community and if the community doesn't feel like they're being served in the way they want to be served then tell us about it," KCPD Major Ryan Mils said.

It's one meeting to help shape the historic district's future.

"I think this is a very good first step, and quite frankly I think it needs to be ongoing," McQueen said.