The low-slung building at 60th and Troost in Kansas City was a Black Angus Steakhouse for years, then a nightclub.
But it’s been abandoned and ugly for about five years and recently was covered with graffiti.
So on Thursday it became the first of what city officials say will be hundreds of eyesore properties to be demolished over the next two years, using $10 million from a city bond sale.
“This is the kickoff of the city’s effort to eliminate all of the dangerous buildings in the city of Kansas City. There are approximately 800 on that list,” said City Manager Troy Schulte.
The city will first attack 200 buildings that it owns because private property owners defaulted or otherwise walked away from them. The building at 6001 Troost is part of the Kansas City Land Bank’s inventory, and once it is torn down — at a cost of about $29,000 — and the lot is cleaned up, the Land Bank will market it for sale.
Calvin Sanders, who works at a car wash across the street from 6001 Troost, watched as heavy equipment munched away at the building. He recalled going there when it was a nightclub but said it had outlived its useful life.
“It needs to be torn down,” he said.
In the past, the city has demolished about 150 buildings per year, which never kept pace with the additional abandoned structures that kept piling up. The bond sale freed up money to eliminate the existing backlog, although more buildings are always being added.
City Councilwoman Alissia Canady said council members don’t think demolition is always the key to revitalization, and the council is also working hard to see that aging homes in certain neighborhoods get rehabilitated.
That’s the purpose of the city’s $1 house program. The Land Bank has found owners for 45 decrepit properties who purchase the homes for $1 but will invest thousands of dollars in turning them back into valued homes. Those owners have three months to fix up the exteriors and a year to complete repairs.
But Canady said demolition is a useful tool for buildings like 6001 Troost that can’t be affordably renovated.
“This is the first step of revitalizing the blight and creating an environment where we have the ability to rebuild and also to repopulate the urban core,” she said.
Schulte said 6001 Troost was chosen as the first building because it is on a highly visible street that has other viable businesses and could be an attractive lot for a new owner. Nearby properties include a dentist’s office, a medical supply office and a learning center.
For the owners of the 600 privately held buildings on the dangerous buildings list, Schulte has a message. Unless they fix up their properties, those buildings will be torn down as well, at an average cost of $15,000, counting the city’s administrative charge, and a lien will be placed on those properties.