City leaders claim 18th & Vine investment spurring private development

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The city's finance committee is considering spending another $10-million in the 18th and Vine area as part of the second phase of nearly $28-million in upgrades for the entertainment district.

The city hasn't nailed down where all the money will come from for the Jazz District, but the city manager does say funding will probably be spread out over the next two or three years.

City leaders claim $7 million spent in the first phase of 18th and Vine upgrades, has yielded nearly $45-million of private investment around it. This includes about $20-million that Major League Baseball has invested in its Urban Youth Academy. And there are plans to spend millions more in private money to turn the old Crispus Attucks school into an arts center, showcasing music and other entertainment.

"We had private investors from Chicago via China that were very interested in putting an arts center there," said Kelvin Simmons, chair of the 18th & Vine policy development committee. "So that we could explore the arts, entertainment and music. They’ve done a very similar one in Chicago, Illinois. If they do something even close to what they did in Chicago, the 18th and Vine area and this community would benefit immensely. And they did not ask the city of Kansas City for one dollar. They are doing it on their own dime."

Councilman Scott Wagner says the baseball academy actually happened before the city committed to this 18th and Vine project.

And there are concerns about continuing to pour millions of dollars into the Jazz District. The city has other projects, including: the Buck O'Neil bridge, an aquarium, a Platte County soccer complex, street car extension, and the Barney Allis Plaza renovation, all which need funding sources too.

The city will request central city sales tax money for some of the jazz district upgrades, and may use street maintenance bonds to pay for intersection improvements. Some upgrades will be paid in cash on a pay-as-you-go basis.

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