Demolition begins as city moves forward with plans to redevelop Jazz District

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The city is moving forward with plans to redevelop the Jazz District after the city council recently approved spending $7-million on the 18th and Vine area.

"We’ll see more than that," said Quinton Lucas, councilman for the 3rd district at large. "Millions and millions in private investment along 18th Street. Certainly from the Crossroads past Indiana onto Interstate 70 and beyond. That can help transform this entire corridor not just the block we are standing on today."

A building on the southeast corner of 18th Street and The Paseo is not historically significant. It was built in the 1970s and most recently housed the Black Chamber of Commerce.

But it has been condemned, and the city is tearing it down in hopes of attracting a developer who will bring new shops and apartments to the area.

Older buildings in greater need of repair, but with historical significance, are being stabilized by the city as part of the redevelopment plan.

Those who live nearby are applauding the effort.

"30 or 40 or 50 years ago there was change," said Ron Medlock of Kansas City. "Now here we are now there’s change. It’s a good thing to see this actually happen. To see the development of the 18th and Vine District. It’s good for the community too to come down here to see how wonderful it’s going to be."

The city also is moving to acquire and complete the Buck O'Neil Center in the former Paseo YMCA. And there are plans to connect the Jazz District to a new multi-use space that will support the Urban Youth Baseball Academy in Parade Park.

The revitalization effort also includes rehabbing the Boone Theater at 18th and Highland streets.

And parking and streetscape improvements will make the area more attractive as a place to live.