KC’s old Wonder Bread building gets new slice at life with renovation on Troost

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The corner of 30th and Troost is about to look a lot different after the Wonder Shops & Flats finish their development.

But what will it mean for this eastside neighborhood?

FOX4's Sherae Honeycutt got a peek inside and at what the future may hold. Check out the project in the video player above.

The Wonder Shops & Flats took over the old Wonder Bread building last year. It's a mixed-use building of nearly 90 apartments, business space, retail and food options.

The space has a lot of new and a lot of old. The lobby has an original faded Wonder Bread logo painted inside, and the walls are lined with previously used Twinkie baking sheets with old bread mixers serving as seemingly modern art.

Lauren Jensen, a development coordinator with Exact Partners, said they hope Wonder fills in holes the neighborhood currently has and is able to help the community through nonprofits within their walls.

"We kind of think of this as a community within a community," Jensen said. "We want services and goods that can serve everyone, but we have 86 units here, so we need to have a variety of services and goods that appeal to the residents within the building, and the surrounding community."

Besides the apartments and office space, there's Blip Roasters with a large coffee shop space where people living or working in the building can spend time or people walking off the street can enjoy the space.

Still under development is the East of Troost Brewing that will sit right on the corner of the building.

Freight House Fitness opened their second location here. Owners Sean and Kendra Van Horn opened their first location in the West Bottoms five years ago.

The new gym space is vibrant and even Instagram-able with a larger than life mural and neon sign welcoming visitors in. The Van Horns use a class-based system where members get one-on-one help through their workouts.

Sean Van Horn said he hopes to find ways to give back to the community by offering trades for memberships to those that need it and giving free community workouts when they can.

"Coming into the community, and just seeing what we can do to give back, and really just breaking down the barriers, and bringing different cultures all together and just creating this space that we love so much," Van Horn said.

BikeWalkKC moved into the building back in September. Their main offices and repair shop are housed on the first floor.

Executive Director, Eric Rodgers, said it's an ideal location for them, being central to public transit and other nonprofit partners they work with.

"I think it's going to bring a really interesting and needed energy," Rogers said. "It shows that development can take a lot of forms, and it's really possible to preserve the character of the neighborhood."

BikeWalkKC put a bike rental station on the corner with quick and easy access for people at the intersection to pick up and drop of a bike.

Rodger said he hopes the organization being at this location will make getting around the city more accessible for many that need transit alternatives.

"Troost, which has been a historic dividing line in our city, is now a place where a lot of things are coming together in terms of people moving in, different types of business, nonprofits and social services. So it’s great to have all of this coming in there," Rodgers said.

Homeroom Health will open in July as a partnership between Cornerstones of Care and KC Health Center.

The clinic will offer pediatric medical, mental and social healthcare to kids in the area with needs and all foster children in Jackson County.

Cornerstones of Care's Chief Development Officer Chad Harris said it's the first of its kind. They expect once they hit their operational stride, the clinic will serve 2,500 under-served children each year.

Any approved child will be able to receive healthcare regardless of their insurance status.

"It's a really rewarding opportunity to be able to partner with the community," Harris said. "We're doing outreach to a lot of community organizations in the area to let them know about the services that we're going to be providing to this neighborhood."

While the new development offers a wide range of services and amenities for customers, they don't have any affordable housing units in their building.

The lack of options for mixed income housing is a concern to Dianne Cleaver with the Urban Neighborhood Initiative. Cleaver said development of Troost is good, but it should serve people in the community.

She hopes developments that do come in don't raise prices for current residents.

"I think it can be a really cool place where people from all parts of town come and feel at home," Cleaver said. "You have racial and ethnic diversity, you have socioeconomic diversity, you have diversity of what's happening there, and then it's a really cool place, instead of a gentrified place."

Cleaver said most of the apartments in the area, not just Wonder, are being rented at market price. She said if residents want to see more affordable housing and mixed income living situations, residents will need to be proactive and creative in their approach.

"We are supporting and providing a place for the people that have been there for years and years and years," Cleaver said. "We don’t want the development to push them out in one way or another. We want there to be a place for them as well as a place for the new people that come in."

The Wonder Shops will also have a third location for a local restaurant. They can't announce it yet, but it will offer indoor patio seating for a creative dining experience.

Jensen said there are still a few spots left in the building for some retail shops. They're hoping to bring in a bakery so people in the neighborhood can buy fresh baked goods -- and as an homage to their namesake.

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