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$10M plan to rid KC of dangerous buildings

Posted: 9:05 PM, Feb 11, 2016
Updated: 2016-02-12 04:27:28Z

The list is close to 800 properties long, marking all of the dangerous buildings in Kansas City. Now, there's a new plan to demolish or renovate them all in the next two years.

On Thursday, Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte announced the new proposed budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. As part of that plan, $10 million would be earmarked to demolish the blighted buildings or give that money to someone who has purchased and brought the property up to code.

PHOTOS | A look at blighted houses in Kansas City

Shulte said, "If you want 'em, come and get 'em, but you've got to rehab 'em and bring them up to code compliance, and at the end of the process, the city will take the money it would have otherwise spent in demolition and give it back to the rehabber."

Prices start as low as $1. "So we're offering people a choice now. You don't want the building to come down, it's for sale. A buck, come get it," James added.

MAP | Take a look at the list of KCMO's dangerous buildings and where they're located.

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Blight on the east side

Johnny Burris lives on the east side of Kansas City. He bought his home off East 27th Terrace and Van Brunt in 1977. Since then, Burris says the neighborhood has been in decline. "It's just the last few years the wrong kind of people have established it."

Across from his home are four properties stamped with the words "dangerous building" by the city. Burris told 41 Action News that squatters "strip out the hot water tank, the furnaces, they even strip the copper out of the walls. They strip them out to where there's nothing left of them, and to rebuild them wouldn't be worth it."

Blight on the south side

The story is similar on the city's south side. Brenda Thomas, president of the Marlborough Community Coalition, knows firsthand the impact blight has on a neighborhood.

"It makes others, who are bad actors, be attracted to the neighborhoods to maybe squat in houses, sell dope out of houses, prostitute, the whole nine yards," Thomas said. "It degrades an area where many people have invested their lives here. It devastates it."

When will demolitions start?

James acknowledged, "We know that they have a drag on safety issues and we know that they have a drag on neighborhoods, so we're going to start taking them down as soon as we possibly can. Kansas City is a city that never quits, and we haven't quit on this."

That is exactly what Burris hopes for, even though he is not yet convinced. "They've been telling me for years that they were going to tear down these houses. Well, it's on the thing for this year and each year nothing is done. Be honest, I won't believe it until they start doing it because I've been promised for so many years that they were going to do it and they haven't done it yet."

Schulte referenced that in the presentation Thursday, saying the city had to pay for its public safety pensions first. Now, it is ready to fully commit to complete this project in two years. The budget still has to be approved, but James is confident that will happen so the work can begin.

Want to weigh in?

The first public hearing on the Kansas City budget will be Saturday, Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to noon at the regional police academy at 6885 NE Pleasant Valley Road.

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Dia Wall can be reached at dia.wall@kshb.com .

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