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Kansas City Council approves funding for 18th and Vine District

Posted: 5:58 PM, Jul 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-14 23:25:50Z

Kansas City Council no longer wants the city’s 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District to sing the redevelopment blues. 

On Thursday, City Council unanimously approved $7 million for a new phase of improvements for the district. 

“We’re hopeful over the next 12 months we’ll certainly see part of the first phase taking place,” said Councilman Jermaine Reed, who has been the driving force behind the project. 

The city’s plan is broken into three phases. The $7 million will first allow the city to acquire property it needs to make improvements to amenities, such as the Buck O’Neil Center and Black Archives. Some money will also go toward creating a public patio and an amphitheater. 

The second and third revitalization phases would be completed using federal, state and local financial resources as well as private funding. 

"We need more than just for it to be preserved, like it’s a passing thing. It needs to be alive,” said Earl Smith.

Smith has worked as a barber in the Jazz District for the past two years. 

"The history alone isn’t going to do it. We really need some more blood pumped into here, new businesses pumped into here to really keep it alive and make it what it really needs to be.” 

Since 1990, the city has invested nearly $100 million into the district, including spending $20 million on principal and $6 million on debt service. Included in the spending:

  • Nearly $1.74 million for the Jazz Hall of Fame in fiscal year 1994-1995
  • $1.3 million for the Black archives in fiscal year 2003-2004
  • More than $2 million for the Urban Youth Baseball Academy in fiscal year 2015-2016

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But Reed said right now is the best time to invest. 

"Over the past 26 years there has not been this type of attention and focus on 18th and Vine,” said Reed. 

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Ariel Rothfield can be reached at  Ariel.Rothfield@KSHB.com.

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