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Pendleton Heights residents happy to see construction begin again on Buddhist temple

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After years of looking at a mound of dirt and a big hole in the ground, people in the Pendleton Heights neighborhood are relieved to see construction resume on a blighted street corner.

The project has been part of an American dream for Vietnamese refugees who moved to Kansas City more than 30 years ago.

Since then they have wanted to establish their own Buddhist temple, so they can gather together and practice their religion peacefully.

Thien Nguyen bought the land nine years ago to pursue the project.

"When I buy the land, the neighborhood was very happy, real happy," Nguyen said. "They say, 'Thein what do you buy the land for?' They say, 'You build a building or what?' I say, 'No I build a temple.'"

But after building a house for Buddhist monks next door, communication problems caused conflicts and the city yanked the permits for the temple, which left a partially started construction site eyesore.

"It all set dead for almost two years," said Adam Jones, construction project manager. "That created a lot of animosity and hard feelings in the neighborhood because all of a sudden instead of a temple, they had this big dirt mound and hole across from them."

Now problems have finally been worked out and Nguyen says the structure of the temple should be completed by the end of the year. Members of the Vietnamese community have raised about a million dollars for this project.

When finished the temple is expected to accommodate up to 300 worshipers, and it will include architectural features from Vietnam or made by Vietnamese craftsmen in the United States.