Council member proposes massive east side investment zone

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KANSAS CITY -- Council member Scott Taylor is introducing an ordinance Thursday designed to speed up redevelopment of the city's blighted east side.

Taylor believes without incentives the east side may not grow with the rest of the city.

Taylor is a candidate to be the next mayor, but he says this in not an attempt to win support on the east side, but something he feels is necessary for the city to be successful regardless of who's mayor.

Taylor is proposing creating a massive east side investment zone, complete with tax incentives to attract jobs, provide job training and affordable housing east of Troost Avenue.

He is proposing that the city spend $10-million to pay for home repairs on the east side so that longtime neighbors won't be priced out of their homes when new development starts sprouting around them.

"The home repair program I’m requesting, $10-million for that that sounds like a lot of money. We probably need more," Taylor said. "I think that’s a realistic number to request for that. We need to make it easier for people to stay in their homes if they have been in their homes for decades."

Taylor's plan also would provide a 50 percent property tax break for ten years to those who make investments on the east side.

And it would also rebate earning taxes to employers who hire workers in the east side investment zone.

Some on east side fear so called improvements result in gentrification, pushing people out of their longtime neighborhoods.

"That investment is pushing people out," said Diane Charity, president of the Historic Manheim Park Association. "The folks that live there that want to stay near grandma or stay in their own residence that they’ve been in for 20 years have not been able to hang around because they have to find someplace else to stay."

Taylor says the ordinance will be held after being introduced Thursday so that there can be many community meetings and feedback that probably will result in changes before any council action is expected next year.