CityPlace developer talks about fire and moving forward

Posted at 7:19 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 15:19:20-04

The developer of the construction site that caught fire Monday afternoon said he was scared when he arrived on scene.

“I saw the flames and I was, I was devastated,” said Block Real Estate Services managing partner Ken Block.

Safety protocols

Investigators determined a contractor welding in the site accidentally sparked the blaze.

Block said that to his knowledge safety protocols were followed by the subcontractors of the site’s primary contractor, Titan. Block said Titan has the same reputation as his firm at meeting or exceeding codes.

“It was sort of a perfect storm of all the wrong things that happened,” said Block, who doesn’t recall his company having to deal with anything like the fire in his 40-plus year career.

Wood frame construction

Block defended the use of wood framing for the construction project, calling the design the industry standard.

“There was never a thought that this was different than normal construction as all of our competitors do it and is how every house next door is done,” said Block.

The future of CityPlace

Block said the 75 residents already living in one of the apartment buildings known as “The View” are back in their homes.

“The Royale” apartment building where the fire started along with another structure badly damaged at the site are expected to be rebuilt.

“We absolutely will go forward with this project. This project is a dream project. It’s one that will one day be a living community,” said Block.

Block will first have to get a demolition permit from Overland Park’s planning development office and resubmit plans for the site before reconstruction will begin.

Overland Park’s communications manager Sean Reilly told 41 Action News that the project will likely get the green light without going back to a public hearing phase as long as Block doesn’t change anything in the original design. 

Focus on the victims

“Talk is cheap. My dad taught me that,” said Block. “It’s more about what you do and so right now we’re going to try to do anything we can, and any one of [the victims] that hasn't been reached can call me directly. That’s the way I am. I will take the call and we will help them.”

Block has created a victim’s relief fund called the Block Cares Fire Relief Fund through the Kansas City Community Foundation. Block made an initial donation of $50,000 to support affected families, firefighters, first responders and relief agencies. Donations can be made here