Officials give details on $7 million Jazz District development so far

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One year after the city made a big financial commitment to the 18th and Vine District, leaders are detailing where money is being spent.

Seven million dollars worth of improvements are underway in the Jazz District, and city leaders Wednesday showed taxpayers that their investment is not being mismanaged.

After the city had to advance operating subsidy payments to cover the costs of this year's Jazz Festival, those who are leading the revitalization effort want to show that upgrade money is not being wasted.

"What we're trying to do is show there's been a lot of progress," said City Manager Troy Schulte. "There's a lot more progress coming."

Work is underway or has already been completed at the Buck O'Neil Education Center, outdoor amphitheater and new retail and apartment space.

There also will be an 18th Street streetscape to connect the Jazz District to the Crossroads, so that more people in the metro may discover 18th and Vine as a destination attraction.

"The city is going to try to soften the blow, make the necessary infrastructure investments and get the space ready for the private sector," Schulte said. "But we cannot do this as an entirely public sector investment. It’s going to have be leveraged. That's what I’m starting to see. The private sector saying there’s stability, there's transparency and we’re going to make an investment."

Schulte says more than $5 million worth of upgrades to the area will be completed by next spring. The plan calls for city spending of nearly $28 million in three phases to help jumpstart other private development.

The Major League Baseball Youth Academy represents a $14 million investment and is expected to be transformative in helping attract other private commitments, when the first phase is finished later this fall.