Officials announce initiatives to renew Kansas City’s Northeast neighborhoods

07/28/2014 2:05 PM

07/28/2014 10:59 PM

Kansas City’s historic Northeast neighborhoods are more than 100 years old, and many blocks have seen better days.

So city officials announced several initiatives Monday to capitalize on the area’s character and charm while promoting housing improvements, business development and blight removal.

“We are starting our renewal here,” Councilman Scott Wagner said just before a backhoe tore into the roof of a graffiti-covered building known for drug use and gang-related activity at Seventh Street and Jackson Avenue.

The building is the first of what Wagner hopes eventually will be 100 decrepit buildings torn down in Old Northeast, as the city pledges to target the area for dangerous building demolitions. But that is just one element of the new “Invest Northeast” initiative that brought together city officials, community groups and representatives of seven Northeast neighborhoods that make up a coalition called Northeast Alliance Together, or NEAT.

Wagner said the city is using a $150,000 grant and $250,000 freed up from refinancing the Century Towers development at 635 Woodland and is leveraging other funds.

The money will be reinvested in Old Northeast in a variety of ways:

Property tax abatement — freezing property taxes for homeowners and business owners who complete a remodel of $5,000 or more.

Minor home repair targeted at low- or moderate-income families from Benton to Van Brunt boulevards and from Garner Avenue to Eighth Street, for roofing, windows, exterior paint, furnaces or ductwork.

Business training scholarships to help Northeast residents and existing business owners attend business-related classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Micro-loans for business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs, through St. Louis-based Justine Petersen.

The neighborhoods also have collaborated on a website, HNEKC.com, and new wayfinding signs to further promote the area and its improvements.

To reach Lynn Horsley, call 816-226-2058 or send email to lhorsley@kcstar.com.

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