KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s new attention on the East Village in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
It’s the same area of downtown Royals Chairman and CEO John Sherman said is being considered for the team’s new stadium.
"I think East Village we've talked about," Sherman said in an interview before the Royals season opener last week. "It's been talked about and we've done probably the most work on that site."
Now, a developer is taking steps to grow its footprint in the East Village, an area east of City Hall and before Interstate 70 in the eastern part of downtown inside the Downtown Loop.
The East Village is a place people are mostly used to passing through or, for some people like Joanne Scurato, it’s a place to park.
“I just call it downtown,” Scurato said.
Currently, the East Village is just parking lots and empty plots of land.
A company called Block 66 LLC — which is connected with developer, VanTrust Real Estate — is trying to buy more land in the East Village.
Rich Muller, an executive vice president with VanTrust, appeared Wednesday before a KCMO City Council committee on Wednesday.
“Now, we’re getting to the point that we’re having conversations with end users who have an interest in being downtown and we are not able to put together a redevelopment plan until we know what land we actually own,” Muller said.
Block 66 owns more than six acres of land in the East Village, according to Jackson County's Parcel Viewer. The company wants to add nearly six more acres to its footprint, land which VanTrust leases from the city with an option to buy.
“We do have a contract with the city that we want to be in a position to exercise irrespective of what happens with downtown baseball,” Muller said.
City Council members and Mayor Quinton Lucas asked for more transparency.
“I'm leery of the timing and speculation,” Councilman Kevin O’Neill said.
The KSHB 41 I-Team also was curious about the timing and went to the Royals for answers. A spokeswoman for the team said the land deal “is not connected to the future ballpark district.”
"So, I'm most interested in, why is this ordinance before us?” Lucas said at Wednesday’s committee meeting.
The ordinance would allow City Manager Brian Platt to sign the deeds to transfer the land to VanTrust, but the transfer is not happening yet. The ordinance being brought before the committee is potentially the next step in the sale process.
“We can be in a position to exercise our option, close on the city’s land and demonstrate further with folks that we’re talking to that we’re committed and that we have control and that we can do what we say we’re going to do,” Muller said.
When that time comes, there's already a set price for the land — $4.2 million.
The City Council committee plans to take up the proposed ordinance again next week. No vote was taken Wednesday related to the possible sale.