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New master plan would address chronic issues affecting Armourdale for decades

Unified Government commission will vote in October
Posted at 7:30 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 21:53:37-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Neighbors and Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, commissioners will weigh in on a master plan that would address chronic issues in the Armourdale neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas.

The goal would put the focus on the neighbors, like Rosie Garcia.

"We've been married for 57 years," Garcia said. "We started on 12th and Osage, moved to a house on 9th and we're back."

Garcia has spent the majority of her life in Armourdale, raising six kids who've all moved away.

"A lot of people tell us that it's a bad neighborhood, but we've never had any problems," Garcia said.

This is home for her, and she's always liked it but says things don't really change, except now the Thriftway is gone and her church closed down.

And that's the thing.

Claudine Sanders, vice president of the Armourdale Renewal Association, said the problems that persisted 25 years ago are "unfortunately pretty much the same."

Armourdale is an isolated neighborhood, surrounded by industry, river, railroad and highways, and has suffered from flooding incidents since the early 1900s.

The neighborhood, historically, is mostly made up of Latinos and immigrants. In the 1910s and 1920s, Armourdale was one of the neighborhoods where Mexican immigrants settled to work in the plants and on the railroad.

Over a period of disinvestment after flooding, redlining in the 40s and industrial companies taking over residential areas in the late 50s, Armourdale's population went from 12,000 to 2,500 today.

"We have not had a whole lot of things going on to help residents and businesses unite to have better neighborhoods," Sanders said.

The neighborhood hasn't had a master plan since 1979, and that's what the Unified Government is working to fix right now.

Unified Government commissioners will vote on a new master plan at the end of October which would revamp main streets like Osage and Kansas, totally overhaul the faulty sewer system and improve connectivity to the river and the West Bottoms.

Neighbors will point out the sewer as one of the worst problems. The streets flood when it rains, leaving stagnant water behind.

In conjunction with the Rock Island Bridge renovation that is set to launch in 2023, the master plan would emphasize recreation around the Kansas River, such as trails and parks.

Along with that, the master plan seeks to keep Armourdale's identity and diversity while leveraging its proximity to the West Bottoms and downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

"If we can start to correct those issues through our public investment, we can create a better public right-of-way that encourages and creates a sense of place that attracts reinvestment," said Gunnar Hand, director of planning and urban development for the Unified Government.

Hand said there has always been ambiguity in the neighborhood that the industrial takeover that wiped out much of the houses on the east side of 7th Street in the late 50s would happen again.

"We always thought they might buy some houses and start making [an] industrial area, but nothing ever happened," Garcia said.

Hand said this master plan clearly says that residents are here to stay.

Commissioners will vote on the plan Oct. 28.