Distillery hopes proposed CID will revitalize Kansas City’s East Bottoms neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- J. Rieger and Co. distillery has a vision for the future of Kansas City's East Bottoms.

The founders want to see lots of redevelopment in the area, so the company filed a request for a Community Improvement District or CID. The Electric Park CID would allow some money from a district sales and use tax to be used for things like marketing, public safety, maintenance and repairs, landscaping and cleaning.

Kansas City's East Bottoms was one of the most popular parts of the city in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Heim Brewery was located on Guinotte Avenue, and its owners built the first location of an amusement park called Electric Park around the corner. It later moved to the Paseo.

The brewery remained, but then Prohibition hit.

"Once Prohibition hit, it was that that knocked the large scale brewery that was down here," said Andy Rieger, president of J. Rieger and Co. "And as industry kind of shifted, this neighborhood kind of fell apart and died off with it. So the neighborhood has kind of become very commercial, very industrial with very little thought about what is the real plan, what is the thought, how do you revive it, how do you act upon the history?"

All these years later, Rieger wants to see the neighborhood where he's building a new whiskey distillery thrive again.

That's where the proposed Electric Park CID comes into play.

"As you start to bring a lot of foot traffic down, the real goal there is to be able to have other buildings in this general area begin the redevelopment process," Rieger said. "Being able to have the ability to retain some of the sales taxes that we generate down here, in order to stick specifically in our neighborhood, can continue to enhance development and the entire neighborhood is really important for us."

If approved, the Electric Park CID would be made up of 3.6 acres of land owned by J. Reiger. The sales and use tax for the CID would not exceed 1%. It will have to be approved by the Kansas City City Council.

Some residents of the East Bottoms told FOX4 they didn't think the area needed improvement. Others said they were eager to see changes in the area.

Jim Tuso, who runs the Kansas City Athlete Training across from Heim Park, said he would look forward to the CID.

His gym is around the corner from the proposed CID district.The nonprofit gym opened in January and since then, more than 300 kids from 50 districts in the metro have attended classes.

"This location has been monumental, and there's really nothing down here yet," Tuso said. "So having venues come in would be awesome. The more people the better it is for everyone."

Tuso said if the area were improved and fostered new development, parents could have a place to go while their student athletes train.

"We're bringing people in, but most of them are having to go to North Kansas City to even get a Coke or visit a QT," Tuso said.

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