KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The people who own a 7,300-square-foot home in Kansas City want to tear it down. But the neighborhood association says it should be saved.

Steve Vawter said he’s under contract with a developer who wants to build apartments on the property after the home is torn down. But a recent designation of the home as historic has thrown a wrench in things.

Photos courtesy of Historic Kansas City show what the 1913 George Richards Home once was.
But Vawter says that’s not what’s become of the home at 45th and Warwick is near the Kansas City Art Institute and Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

“The basement door was broken out, there’s more over this way,” Vawter said showing what he said has become the frequent work of thieves, vagrants and vandals.

He no longer lives in the home and no other single family homes still exist in the immediate surrounding neighborhood.

“Library, school, museum, church, another museum, that’s institutional isn’t it?” Vawter asked.

But the Southmoreland Neighborhood Association says the home is still part of the neighborhood and it’s been fighting plans to tear down the home and build apartments.

“They filed a historic nomination one day before we were hoping to get our demolition permit,” Vawter explained.

“We feel strongly that there needs to be more consideration before just willy-nilly demolishing things,” Laura Burkhalter, Southmoreland Neighborhood Association President, said.

It successfully petitioned to have the home added to the Kansas City Register of Historic Places.

“I don’t believe they’ve ever done a single family residence against the owner’s will,” a perplexed Vawter said.

Owners of the nearby Truitt boutique hotel have offered to buy the home for $1.25 million and restore it for hotel guests to stay in.

“I think it’s fair to call it lowball,” Vawter responded, though Truitt co-owner Ryan Hiser said that figure was derived from Jackson Co. property assessments.

Vawter says he’s been offered significantly more for just the land. He added fixing it up is “not economically feasible,” with restoration estimates of up to $1.9 million.

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So now a fight that’s already been in front of several boards, heads to one more showdown Friday at 9 a.m. before Kansas City’s Historic Preservation Commission as Vawter and his brother seek a Certificate of Appropriateness for demolition.

“We’re not taking any pleasure in this, we don’t want to go down this path. We always feel like there are creative solutions to problems,” Burkhalter said.