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'You don’t know how to feel': Neighbors, KCMO mayor react to city’s vote to preserve Parade Park Homes complex

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Jan 03, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance intended to preserve Parade Park Homes, one of the oldest housing cooperatives in Kansas City and the nation.

The ordinance, which passed on Dec. 15, authorizes KCMO City Manager Brian Platt to work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to come up with an agreement related to the complex.

The agreement would then let the city acquire the Parade Park Homes properties and then transfer them to a private developer.

This acquisition is contingent on HUD being able to place the highest bid on the townhomes at the foreclosure sale, which is set for March.

The current plan is for HUD to submit a bid on Parade Park, and the minimum amount is set at $11,994,175.02.

Parade Park has been under HUD’s federal management since 2022, and in 2023, it announced foreclosure of the property, largely do to unfit living conditions such as broken windows, uninhabited units and burn marks.

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Of the 510 units in the complex, only 189 are occupied, leaving remaining unoccupied units boarded up to keep non-residents out.

"Parade Park Homes is a historic cooperative with deep roots in Kansas City’s Black community. Unfortunately, the property suffered from years of physical and financial neglect, and for the safety of residents, HUD was forced to foreclose on the FHA-insured mortgage to protect remaining residents, fulfill our mission to taxpayers, and begin the process of preserving affordable housing in the community," a HUD spokesperson said in a statement. "Through the foreclosure, and subsequent sale of the property, HUD is looking to ensure Parade Park remains an affordable and well-maintained property for the current and future residents over the long term. HUD is working with Kansas City officials and residents to achieve a positive outcome for the residents and the community."

The ordinance’s contingency has been a cause for concern for residents like Lynn Williams. She’s been living at Parade Park for over 25 years.

Williams has been keeping tabs on each new update in the ongoing Parade Park saga, something that’s left her with multiple questions.

“Who’s gonna get it? What are they gonna do with it? What happens to me,” she said.

According to KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas, the city’s answer to those questions is clear.

“The biggest thing we have in our current arrangement is, making sure that everybody who is there today has a chance to go back, that’s step one,” Lucas said. I think the next step is, how do you have a modern area and facility that’s something that is attractive to people coming into that area, but also people that have been there for years and years?”

Situated minutes from downtown in the heart of the city’s historic 18th and Vine district, both Lucas and Williams shared that Parade Park Homes, a long-time beacon of Black excellence, is in a coveted location.

“Parade Park has been a special place for me, my family, and thousands of Black families in Kansas City for generations. I am proud of out work with @HUDgov to preserve affordability and bring hundreds more to a vital part of Kansas City and 18th and Vine,” the mayor said in a tweet from December.

He says the city’s vote was an effort to offer a solution to the ongoing maintenance problems the complex faced. In terms of the contingency question, it’s something he doesn’t want hindering any efforts to preserve the property.

“While there are always contingencies on any new type of development or any new type of project, I think when you’re looking at HUD, when you’re looking at the city of Kansas City and others that have invested long-term in this project, this speaks highly to having an opportunity to making sure that things will be better at Parade Park in five years, rather than just having a status quo of under performance on things like maintenance,” Lucas said.

A HUD spokesperson said if its outbid, the property is sold to the highest qualified bidder approved by HUD.

"A HUD qualified owner must demonstrate capacity and experience to own and manage an affordable housing property in accordance with the terms and conditions of sale (the Bid Kit)," the HUD spokesperson said.

HUD says residents have received notification that the property is being foreclosed and that the terms and conditions of its sales have been shared with them.

In addition, it added that city officials have participated in meetings with the residents.

Williams wants one thing to be clear: she has never been against re-development.

In fact, she’d love to see new units for seniors like herself (age 65), as well as people older than her. She says it’s hard to know what the outcome will look like for Parade Park because nothing feels guaranteed.

“You still don’t know what to do,” she said. “You don’t know how to feel.”

What she does know is that for the time being, she wants to prepared in case she has to leave her home.

So, she’s packing up her boxes little by little just in case the worse case scenario plays out. But, that doesn’t mean she’s going to stop using her voice and asking questions.

“I don’t know what the outcome’s gonna be, but I’m tooth and nail down to the end,” she said.