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Katz Drug Store, nuisance properties make 'Most Endangered List'

Posted at 5:39 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 18:54:53-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Historic Kansas City recently released its "Most Endangered List."

New to the list this year is the old Katz Drug Store building near Westport Road and Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri.

Historic KC works to revitalize structures that have played an important role in the city's history.

Executive Director Lisa Briscoe said the list is meant to raise awareness about properties that are most threatened.

"It is a list that includes a number of properties that Historic KC is actively working toward their preservation," Briscoe said. "It also includes sites that have champions separate from Historic KC. It also includes buildings that don't have champions, and they're important because the threat to historic resources throughout the city far exceeds our capacity."

Historic KC Board President Jim Wanser said the buildings on the list are not added in a negative manner.

"It's meant to be a positive gesture, so that we bring together stakeholders who have a vested interest in protecting these along with developers who understand the significance and can bring development to the property," Wanser said.

The old Katz building was added to the list this year since it is more than 50 years old and will be put up for sale in the next few months.

[GALLERY: Katz Drug Store through the years]

"Our goal is to bring awareness, especially when a building is in transition when it's empty and it will potentially be on the real estate market," Wanser said. "We just want to make sure that the legacy and the architecture and integrity is protected."

Director of Store Operations for Phoenix Herb Company Tracy Crawford works across the street from the building and said she would like to see it restored into something that a lot of people can benefit from.

"I definitely wouldn't want to see anything super commercial go in or to see it be torn down," Crawford said.

Phoenix Herb Company General Manager Todd Altizer said he has fond memories of Katz from his childhood.

"I remember as a kid going in there and it had one of the best toy departments," Altizer said. "It was awesome. I loved it as a kid."

He hopes a new owner will want to preserve it.

"There are so many things that are being taken down that were part of the history of this city," Altizer said. "Kansas City isn't just your Midwest city. There's a lot that has happened here."

Crawford agrees preserving historic buildings should be more of a priority.

"I think there's a lot of great history in the architecture here in Kansas City, and we're really eager to tear things down and replace it instead of preserving what tells its own story," Crawford said.

Briscoe said the city asked Historic KC to include a handful of nuisance properties on this year's list.

"They recommended five sites to us this year that they wanted us to share as part of the list to raise awareness that these are properties in desperate need of renovation or new developers to come forward and rehabilitate them," Briscoe said.

The five nuisance properties include:

  • Kansas City Water Department Building, 201 Main Street
  • Princeton Hotel, 3241 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
  • Belmont Hotel, 911 East Linwood Boulevard
  • 611-613 Forest Avenue
  • Charles P. Shipley Saddlery and Mercantile Company, 1631 Genessee St.

These properties are abandoned, deteriorating and becoming dangers to neighborhoods.

Briscoe said community members can show their support for preserving historic buildings in Kansas City by reaching out to their local elected officials and letting them know preservation matters to them.