Injecting new life into Kansas City neighborhoods east of Troost Avenue is difficult, costly, time-consuming work.
We might say you could just ask Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Foundation about that fact but, as The Star reported last week, officials for the group aren’t being forthcoming about what’s up with their plans to build up to 50 single-family houses in the Manheim Park neighborhood.
Local officials understandably are concerned and puzzled by the lack of activity.
The proposal is worthwhile, and we hope Pitt’s organization follows through.
But this is also a good opportunity to point out that many other elected officials, business leaders and groups are working to bolster economic development and new housing on the city’s east side.
Sometimes they are succeeding, as with the recent announcement that a new charter school — Kansas City Neighborhood Academy — will open this fall in the old Wendell Phillips Elementary School. It’s part of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative pursued the last five years by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
But progress often is painfully slow in Kansas City’s lower income neighborhoods.
This summer, the City Council has endorsed spending public dollars on two projects that hold promise for boosting the urban core.
One was renovating the shopping center at Linwood Boulevard and Prospect Avenue. That effort is already more than a year behind schedule, and while backers are sure a new grocery will attract customers, the last one at that location didn’t.
In a second step forward, the council backed the use of $7 million to make improvements in the 18th & Vine District. Fortunately, the council did not approve a more costly $27.6 million plan that didn’t include nearly enough private-sector support.
The slimmed down program will provide enough to repair historic structures, hire an experienced property management company to market the area and make it possible to open the first phase of the John “Buck” O’Neil Education and Research Center at 1824 The Paseo.
As with the Linwood Shopping Center, success is not guaranteed at 18th & Vine, either. The area has sputtered to attract sufficient visitors for two decades.
Yet doing nothing is not an option. The city — and the Make it Right Foundation, too — must stay focused on the work required to improve the quality of life in the urban core.