KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City nonprofit may need to find a new home.
The group is We Code KC, and they moved into the city-owned property last August. Their CEO hoped to get a long-term lease on the building.
Now, the city says the building is going up for sale and on the market. If We Code KC can’t buy it themselves they will have to go.
Back on March 2, the Finance Governance & Public Safety Committee made the decision to sell the building despite pleas from the CEO and 3rd District Councilmembers. We Code KC hopes to buy the building but would need to raise the money before their lease is up.
“We can truly impact the community with providing skills that will allow these students, these young people to learn about technology,” We Code KC CEO, Tammy Buckner said.
Buckner said she has a vision for 2534 Prospect Avenue.
“What if I could create a robot? What if I could create a game that I’m playing? What if I could actually create a Facebook? They get to come here and actually put that imagination to work,” Buckner said.
She started We Code KC back in 2017 as a software engineer looking to give back. The aim of the organization is to teach kids in the urban core skills to push them into a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) career. In August, Buckner rented 2534 Prospect from the city.
“This could be the perfect spot,” Buckner said.
Buckner invested $25,000 of her own money into a new roof and mold removal from the property. Even though it was a rental property she had faith the city would see the value in her efforts.
“I was thinking the program would be good enough that they could say wow, this is a great program,” Buckner said.
However, the city decided to move forward with selling the property despite Buckner’s vision and renovations. Councilmembers Lee Barnes Jr. & Heather Hall say the building needs to go up for bid.
“When we were going into this lease agreement I tried to make it abundantly clear that the organization knew that we were going to put this particular property, make it surplus, and put it out for sale,” 5th District at-large Councilman Barnes said.
Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson believes the city should work with We Code KC to let them stay.
“There is no need to expedite the sale of this building. The third district has two vacant police departments, the central patrol and east patrol, that we need to be addressing. Those are our priorities in our district,” Robinson said.
Buckner said her vision goes beyond funding a building. She says We Code KC is funding their future.
“They can see something that they can call their own. They can see an innovative space they can come out to and be a part of,” Buckner said.
Councilwoman Heather Hall said in a statement: “I fully support We Code KC. The city is keeping our commitment to them, honoring our contract with them through August as per the original agreement. I wish them the best and much success for our youth.”
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