‘It’s starting to flourish’: Two new projects aim to revitalize downtown KCK

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Two new developments may shape the future of downtown Kansas City, Kansas. New apartments and a grocery store are just the start.

Sarah Breitenstein is taking a leap of faith. Just last week, she opened her very own restaurant in KCK’s Strawberry Hill neighborhood, right near downtown.

“It’s been exciting, scary, nerve-wracking but trying to have fun for the most part,” said Breitenstein, owner of Sarah’s on the Hill.

She grew up in this area and thinks right now and right here in KCK is the perfect opportunity to grow.

“It’s starting to flourish, and it’s great,” Breitenstein said.

Just a couple blocks up the street, land near 8th & Washington is being cleared out for 50 new affordable apartment units, which will have rents starting at just $500.

Anticipation is also building for a new grocery store, the Merc Co-op, which will also start construction soon at 5th & Minnesota.

Both are aiming to open in 2020.

“These legitimately are projects that will spawn more projects, more interest in the area and really give people an indication of what downtown could be like and hopefully lead to a lot more development,” said Katherine Carttar, economic development director for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.

KU is also growing its KCK footprint.

Combined, all the new investments are already driving more interest from those finding neighboring KCMO too expensive.

“People are getting priced out of the Crossroads, the River Market. This goes for residential but also commercial and smaller retail establishments that are coming to KCK and realizing this is incredibly accessible,” Carttar said.

Those who live and work here are confident all the new activity will also help KCK continue to shake loose old ideas about the area.

“Wyandotte County had a bad, like people had a bad perception about it, calling it 'Crime Dotte' and stuff like that.  Now it’s good for other people to see it’s not like that,” Breitenstein said.

“Come over. Come see it. Come try some of the restaurants we have downtown. See what KCK actually is,” Carttar said.

The next step is figuring out how to keep building on that momentum and meet the growing demands for affordable housing. The Unified Government Public Health Department is hosting a public meeting on housing solutions Tuesday night from 5:30-7 p.m. at Memorial Hall.

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