Urban Core Group helping revitalize Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A local organization called the Urban Core Group is helping to redevelop and revitalize the urban core, and is celebrating it's 20th anniversary. Over those 20 years, the group has helped transform the metro area into what it is today.

If you come to the crossroads, you'll find art galleries, First Fridays, among other things driving people to this area, but one local businessman says it wasn't always like that.

"About 20 years ago, when I first came down to the Crossroads area, it was really not even know as the Crossroads," said Butch Rigby, a real estate developer, and owner of Screenland Theaters.

Rigby says the Urban Core Group set up small gatherings at different buildings and businesses around the time he needed help the most.

"It was very, very dead on any Friday night. I bought a building at 18th and Wyandotte near the old Film Row District, and I was doing anything I could to get people come downtown, to understand that this area between Union Station and downtown had a lot of promise," Rigby said.

Rigby says the word got out with the help of the Urban Core, which accelerated business and brought recognition.

"One of my first buildings that I developed was the Universal Pictures building, and it was dead empty, but I had a beautiful new renovation done, and they brought 400 people into the building," Rigby said.

The Urban Core Group; a Kansas City based grassroots effort, operated solely by volunteers, met Wednesday at Weinberger Fine Art.

"For two decades, the Urban Core Group has helped strengthen the inner city by supporting businesses and non-profits and revitalization and preservation of historic buildings and structures in the urban core," said Ron Williamson, the Chairman of the Urban Core Group.

Rigby says the group helps revitalize areas like downtown, the River Market, and the Crossroads, and that support is what makes a community.

"It`s about making sure your neighbors and your friends, and your community members are equally successful, because their success is my success, and my success is their success," Rigby said.

The group is celebrating it's 20th anniversary on September 23rd.

The Urban Core Group started with a handful of people, and membership has grown to more than 200.