Supporters of historic jazz district request $18 million for improvements

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Supporters of the historic jazz district at 18th and Vine are now requesting $18 million for improvements.

Initially supporters asked for $7 million to give the area a face lift, but after a committee met on Wednesday, the request more than doubled to around $18-million - due to additional plans that include the construction of a new surface parking lot.

The money would also pay to build new headquarters for the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey; preserve the Boone Theater façade; install a café inside the American Jazz Museum along with fixing up some exhibit space; build a fountain and plaza area at the west end of the district; tear down a couple eyesore buildings on the strip; and renovate some floors of the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center, currently under construction.

Opponents to this project point out that $18-million is a lot of taxpayer money to spend on a district that’s already received a lot of city financing.

The city has spent more than $70-million on 18th and Vine over the past 25-years, renovating buildings, adding museums, building apartments and wooing businesses to move here.

And yet this area still struggles to attract a lot of traffic.

Supporters, though, believe this investment is necessary to continue to preserve an important part of Kansas City’s history.

City Council member Jermaine Reed sent FOX 4 a statement about the proposal:

City Council member Jermaine Reed sent FOX 4 this statement in regards to the proposal.
City Council member Jermaine Reed sent FOX 4 this statement in regards to the proposal.

The measure is expected to be introduced to the City Council Thursday.

"$18 million is nothing to sneeze at," Bob Kendrick with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum said. "But when you learn that Baltimore is about to invest $700 million in its city's urban infrastructure, all of the sudden it becomes relative. So we understand that these are potentially taxpayer dollars, and everybody wants to be a good steward of tax payers money. But I hope people understand with these kinds of enhancements, it's only going to make our city better."

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