All roads lead to Troost Avenue.
The north-south Kansas City artery, which has long served as a symbolic dividing line in the community — separating rich from poor and black from white — is getting an encouraging amount of new attention.
A series of unconnected community conversations, planning efforts and shovel-in-the-ground developments are quietly but assertively making the case that Kansas City can and will bridge its troubling racial divide and pull economic progress eastward.
A few weeks ago, a planning project, led by students at Iowa State University, showed city officials and neighborhood leaders how the 18th Street corridor can be improved and developed from the East Crossroads across Troost and into the 18th and Vine Historic District.
Just this week, a planning process underway to create a wide-ranging cultural district centered on the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art began embracing an important effort to view Troost and the Paseo as vital connecting points and activity centers to the east.
And two miles south, according to a Star story this week, a stretch of new and renovated properties along 63rd Street east of the Brookside neighborhood is creeping within a couple of blocks of potential opportunities at Troost.
More has been bubbling. New student housing went up on Troost near Hospital Hill. Mayor Sly James has put east side development high up on his second-term agenda. The Bancroft School residential conversion and an adjacent housing initiative is beginning to convert a neglected neighborhood just a couple of blocks east of Troost.
And a coalition of neighborhoods is in the midst of a community discussion to enliven Troost from about 31st Street to Cleaver Boulevard, where developer Ollie Gates is completing a new strip shopping center.
On June 11, a workshop will sharpen the vision of this plan to enhance the Troost-Midtown corridor with design and zoning standards meant to preserve some of its historic character while improving the streetscape and neighborhood amenities.
Many obstacles remain, of course, to overturn decades of neglect and disinvestment and block after block of blight.
But all of this activity speaks to a new sense of optimism and community focus prompted by the general economic recovery and by the real efforts of Kansas Citians working admirably to revive the urban core.