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UMKC begins demolition of Oak Place student apartments

UMKC Oak Place.jpg
Posted at 8:51 AM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 09:51:20-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — By the end of July, the Oak Place apartment buildings on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus should be demolished.

UMKC shut down the 12-year-old apartments in 2018 after discovering broken water pipes and mold inside.

The university’s associate vice chancellor for administration said crews are in the pre-demolition phase now and will begin tearing down the apartments near 50th and Oak streets later this month.

Crews will leave the parking garage between the two buildings in place. They also plan to leave trees surrounding the complex standing.

“It is disappointing, it’s been disappointing for us,” explained Bob Simmons, UMKC’s associate vice chancellor for administration. “The impact it’s had on our students and our retail tenants we had within the building. It’s certainly not what any of us envisioned 10 or 12 years ago when we opened up this facility.”

But Simmons said the university hopes to turn lemons into lemonade. It is studying what to do with the property moving forward. Options include building more student housing. UMKC had previously announced intentions to create more on-campus housing.

Simmons pointed out the KC Streetcar will expand to 51st Street and Brookside Boulevard by 2024 or 2025, so there is an opportunity to link the streetcar to campus, which is one block away from the property.

“We’ll be looking at the best use for this site. We do feel additional student campus housing has always been important to us, that it’s affordable, that it meets our students’ needs, but also having mixed-use developments that meet the needs of our community,” Simmons summed up the plans moving forward.

Pickleman’s and Oak Nails, which had retail locations in the building, have had to move out as part of the demolition process.

UMKC made an insurance claim to pay for the demolition and some other costs associated with the property. It also has a lawsuit pending against several of the companies involved in building the apartments. The lawsuit is scheduled for a hearing in November.