Why KCK's Strawberry Hill is the new, hot neighborhood

More business coming to historic Strawberry Hill
Posted at 5:37 PM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-15 11:23:17-04

The Strawberry Hill neighborhood is beautifully historic, but has had a reputation that was "old" in every sense of the word.

The area is slowly transforming. 

Splitlog Coffee Company is new and modern, and full of young people.

It looks like it might be in the Crossroads, Westport or Rivermarket – anywhere but 5th and Central in Kansas City, Kansas.

But it's a perfect location. 

The shop’s owners opened up five months ago, attracted to the area’s vibe.

“The diversity of people in this community and just how well they all mesh has been really fun,” Manager Simeon Bricker said.

Now you see barbecue spots like Slaps BBQ, cocktail bars like Mockingbird Lounge, bike shops, even crossfit – all converging on the east side of KCK, a sort of juxtaposition to the environment just a few blocks over.

“There’s some concern that we want it to be the next Westport or something like that, but I don’t see that happening.  The young people that are coming here, they’re coming here to establish families,” Bricker said.

And millennials love a good skyline view.  Strawberry Hill has that.

The affordable housing market is a jackpot for people wanting a cute fixer-upper. 

The area just got new curbs and sidewalks.  There’s more construction.  A fresh outlook has many agreeing the neighborhood is the most exciting it’s been in decades.

“I think we’re blessed that we have a mix of incomes for the first time in a very long time, but that we’re also becoming increasingly diverse,” President of the Strawberry Hill Neighborhood Association Justine Underwood-Jones said.

She moved in 10 years ago when houses were going for $20,000. Today, she says, houses go for $160,000.

Underwood-Jones said gentrification is a topic her board often discusses, and what it might mean for older residents and the immigrant community establishing businesses, too.

“My hope is that maybe the size of the properties or different factors might put a top on property values around here, but that’s something we’re just not going to know for a while,” Underwood-Jones said.

She says the focus is to increase services for all families, whether they’re renters or homeowners, such as parks and advocating for more school funding.

Other new activities, like the Strawberry Hill Pub Crawl, have made the area more noticeable in the last couple years.