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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A development firm owned by Lamar Hunt Junior is making a big investment to help revitalize the downtown area in Kansas City, Kan. Minnesota Avenue is being transformed.

The former Katz drug store and EPA office building are being rehabbed. There’s 50,000 square feet of space that can be turned into shops, offices and professional services.

A gourmet coffee shop will be the first tenant in the old drug store. Cup On The Hill will be a non-profit, dedicated to teaching job skills to teens in the area.

A general contractor has begun renovations on the former EPA office building. It may become a satellite classroom location for Kansas City Kansas Community College and Donnelly College. The goal is to help return Minnesota Avenue to the hustle and bustle of downtown KCK’s glory years.

“In order to really transform downtown you have to have a spark,” said Greg Kindle, president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council. “A node of development to begin pushing the community forward and seeing the kinds of things you want to bring into the community. We needed a developer who is altruistic, who understands that it just takes a little bit of nudge sometimes to move things forward. And that’s what Loretto Properties has really done for us.”

Lamar Hunt Junior’s firm plans to spend at least $1.5-million restoring the two vacant buildings. The city also will continue streetscape work on Minnesota that started after a new transit center was built at the corner of 7th and Minnesota.

This is not the only development taking place in downtown KCK. The area also is getting 30 new apartments at 8th and State. And the mayor wants to develop a grocery store and fitness center near 10th and State.