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Kansas City surpasses goal in 2-year dangerous buildings initiative

Posted: 12:56 PM, Apr 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-06 09:34:40Z

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A $10 million, 2-year initiative to address 800 dangerous buildings in the city actually ended up taking care of 895 on the list.

City leaders announced the success at a news conference Thursday in front of one of the homes involved in the initiative. 

"It's a house on the rolls as opposed to being a house rolled out, so it works perfectly. The system here has worked very well," Mayor Sly James said.

Lee’s Summit resident Laurie Schwab bought the property on 29th Terrace for $1 from the Land Bank. 

"This is the best dollar we've ever received," City Manager Troy Schulte said while looking at the home

Twenty-one-thousand dollars later the property is unrecognizable. It's a jaw-dropping improvement from the moment Schwab's husband saw the property for the first time.

"He said, 'Are you crazy? You're nuts,'" Schwab said.

Thursday's press conference came nearly two years after the initiative was announced at a house at 23rd and Chestnut in February of 2016.

41 Action News revisited that property on Thursday and found that, true to promise, the house had been demolished. Edward Smith, who grew up on the street, bought the lot from the Land Bank.

"I was going to put two small, like say two-bedroom units for the college students," Smith said of his plans for the property.

Although the 895 homes on the initiative's list were taken care of, that doesn't mean the issue of dangerous buildings in Kansas City is resolved. 

The city still has to address about 300 properties that weren't involved in this particular program.

"It's never going to go away unfortunately, but one thing we have noticed, and a real residual value of this, is how well neighbors have responded to one of these homes coming down," John Baccala of KCMO Neighborhoods and Housing Services said.

Of the original $10 million, $2 million is left over to further progress. The city was able to save a lot of money once Kissick Construction and Industrial Salvage & Wrecking stepped in and offered services free of charge. Kissick alone completed more than 60 demolitions.  

The budget that was just adopted doesn't include another big initiative like this one.

"To find $10 million of free money is not an easy thing," Mayor James said.

However, he also said he will likely sit down with City Manager Troy Schulte to consider more funding in the next budget.

To show appreciation for Schwab's sweat equity, the city handed her a check for $8,500, which is how much they would have spent to bulldoze the house. Schwab also got a return on her original investment.

"Let me sweeten that by saying, here's your dollar back," Schulte said while handing her the bill.