KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Kansas City Kansas’ Armourdale neighborhood has roots that date back nearly 140 years.
However, the neighborhood has fallen on hard times, and its population is shrinking.
Leaders with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County have a plan to help Armourdale get back on its feet. At one point, Armourdale was home to 12,000 residents but now, it’s down to just 2,500.
“The residential status of the neighborhood of Armourdale is here to stay,” Gunnar Hand, Wyandotte County’s director of planning, said.
That status hasn’t always been a sure thing. Armourdale’s birth dates back to 1882 and leaders in KCK considered rezoning the area for industrial use only at one point. Hand said homeowners have gradually left the area as heavy industrial plants came in.
On Thursday, Hand introduced a new master plan focused on Armourdale, which sits off S. 7th Street near Interstate 70. The strategy aims to attract people to live and start businesses in the neighborhood, which is comprised largely of Latino families. As it stands, many people work at Armourdale’s heavy industrial plants, but they live somewhere else.
“This master plan doesn’t seek to remove any of those businesses, but sets a vision where, over time, we revitalize the neighborhood core as primarily commercial and residential uses,” Hand said.
Another facet of this master plan centers on the Kansas River, which nearly surrounds Armourdale. Hand wonders why the river can’t be used for recreation and retail purposes, and attract more options like the forthcoming Rock Island Bridge Project.
Claudine Sanders, vice-president with the Armourdale Renewal Association, likes the project. Sanders’ group works with residents who feel their landlords have treated them unfairly.
“It’s really a great project that would bring a lot of visitors to Kansas City, Kansas,” Sanders said. “The people who’ve managed to stay here and continue to make this their home, I’d like them to feel safe and honored for all the hard work they’ve put into this community.”
A number of residents attended a public meeting at the Armourdale Community Center on Thursday afternoon.
A schedule of upcoming meetings can be found on the Armourdale Strong website. Armourdale’s master plan also seeks to create healthier lifestyles for people there, where there are limited sources of recreation and healthy food. Hand said county leaders will re-examine this strategy every 10 years its in effect.