KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City is home to countless old buildings, but some of them are in rough shape. Historic Kansas City recently released its 2019 most endangered list. Buildings and even entire neighborhoods made the list. Some buildings on the list are slated for demolition.
“There`s a social cost to that of throwing away your history and things that happened in some of these buildings,” Steve Foutch, developer of the Hy-Vee Arena, said.
Historic Kansas City is trying to show that there is hope for a new future.
From the Epperson House on UMKC’s campus to the Main Street Corridor to the Plaza, Kansas City is rich with historic buildings. They all have stories to tell and they’re all considered endangered.
“This is one of the first in the world not to have interior beams,” Foutch said. “And the first in the nation to have interior suites.”
The Kemper Arena in the West Bottoms, known as the Hy-Vee Arena, proudly sits on the National Register of Historic Places. But before a $40 million revitalization project that finished last year, it was on Historic Kansas City’s most endangered buildings list.
“This building was scheduled to be torn down,” Foutch said.
Steve Foutch is one of the arena’s developers. It now has restaurants, office space, a fitness center and two floors of athletic courts.
“We are starting to hold concerts, e-gaming, we are probably one of the largest banquet facilities in Kansas City,” Foutch said.
Foutch says there’s hope for the properties on the endangered list to thrive.
“They just need to be repurposed into something slightly different than their original you just have to be creative and then the use of historic tax credits and other incentives,” Foutch said.
A quest for funding is going on for the Sarah Rector House at 12th and Euclid. Gene Willis with United Inner City Services says they bought it a few years ago. The building is not inhabitable.
“This building has such a unique story of empowerment at a time when women weren’t empowered, when people of color weren’t empowered,” Gene Willis said.
Sarah Rector lived at this home in Kansas City. When she was a girl, she was allotted land with oil on it.
“She became known as the richest black girl in American history for that window of time,” Willis said.
Muralist JT Daniels painted the boarded-up windows to spruce up the historical home this summer. And if funding is secured, United Inner City Services wants to find a way to make the home a place of pride, where they can help and serve the community, and preserve history.
“We`re only as great as a society of the history that we know of it,” Willis said.
Willis says UISC is talking with Historic Kansas City for ways to come up with funding for the Rector House.