Owner of dangerous building in Kansas City notified of issues months before collapse


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Emergency work to demolish a dangerous building on Kansas City’s eastside was underway Tuesday afternoon.

A building at 3902 Woodland started to collapse Saturday and continued to fall Tuesday morning.

One of the first tasks for city inspectors was to declare the building an emergency. It’s a step the city has to take because the building is privately owned. Once it’s declared an emergency situation, the city can demolish it quickly.

The building at the corner of East 39th Street and Woodland Avenue is one of hundreds of blighted buildings across Kansas City. In fact, the building that stood next to it for decades was torn down in January 2021, according to city records.

There are so many dilapidated buildings in Kansas City, Missouri, the city keeps a database of ongoing complaints. The building at 3902 Woodland has been on Kansas City’s list of dangerous buildings since at least October of 2020, and was scheduled to eventually be demolished.

Most of the property on the list is owned by people or organizations that either can’t afford basic improvements, or don’t want to spend the money on the old buildings. Because of that, there is a legal process the city must follow, and can take months to complete.

In 2016, under the guidance of Mayor Sly James, the city decided to take steps to deal with the blight.

That year, Mayor James budgeted $1.5 million to tear down blighted homes and buildings. Of the nearly 900 buildings that made the original list, the city only owned 250 of them. The other 650 were privately owned. That’s when the city realized it needed more money to complete the project and sold bonds to raise $10 million dollars. That money was spent to either rehab or demolish more than 800 buildings between 2016 and 2018 alone.

The progress is tracked through an online map. Purple dots show property that has been torn down, green dots show buildings that are ongoing cases, and yellow shows buildings that have been scheduled for demolition.

The city updates the database daily. There are currently 360 properties on the dangerous buildings list.

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