Midtown neighbors fight another large apartment plan

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some Midtown neighbors are circulating a petition to stop plans to build a new high-rent apartment building near Westport.

Opponents say the proposed 5-story complex near 39th Street and Southwest Trafficway would dwarf existing homes around it.

Renewed interest in apartment development around Westport has longtime homeowners worried.

"All of a sudden we’re seeing a lot of interest from developers for building apartments in this part of town," said Mary Jo Draper, of the Valentine Neighborhood Association. "The concerns of people who live close to where this development is proposed, is there might not be enough parking. There’s very little parking in this part of town."

Neighbors also fear new development is pricing people out of the area.

They claim some of the new apartments will rent for more than $1,800 a month.

Kansas City's council this week approved a moratorium on new development in Westport, but not in time to stop this project, which goes before the plan commission Tuesday.

"It’s hard to imagine where all the people are going to come from that are going to be able to afford an $1,800 a month apartment," Draper said. "We don’t see that there are that many people who have incomes like that. I certainly don’t have an income where I could afford that kind of an apartment."

Neighbors unsuccessfully tried to stop a 6-story apartment building earlier this year, that's soon to be built at the corner of Westport Road and Broadway Street.

Now, they're circulating a petition to halt a similar 5-story apartment building on 39th Street.

Opponents say the building could easily house more than 80 people, while providing less than one parking space per unit in a neighborhood where available parking already is scarce.

The neighborhood association says there's no support for the project among its members and the group hopes to persuade city leaders that neighbors need to be involved at an earlier stage in development planning.