Contentious Lawsuit Between Neighbors At Parade Park Ends In Mediation

Oct 5, 2016

A lawsuit settled Tuesday in which some residents were suing the board of their co-op, Parade Park.
Credit Courtesy Kansas City Public LIbrary

A handful of residents who live at Parade Park filed suit in April against the board of their co-op association and their neighbors.

At issue was a $76 million redevelopment plan for the complex, proposed by a Lee's Summit developer. 

There's widespread agreement the 55-year-old complex needs a facelift, and many approved of the developer's plan. But discussions about it at a number of community meetings pitted neighbor against neighbor in angry debate.

A mediated settlement approved Tuesday by  Jackson County Judge Sandra Midkiff calls for a special election this weekend to elect a new co-op board for the Parade Park homes.

Under the agreement, only one litigant from each side of the lawsuit is allowed to run.

Parade Park Homes — which sits on the edge of the 18th and Vine jazz district — is one of the first African American housing co-ops in the country. Some residents have lived there for decades but in recent years many of the units have been vacant.

The plan put forward by The Dalmark Group suggested that the long-term maintenance and structural issues make renovation prohibitively costly. According the proposal, the most economically efficient approach is to replace the existing homes with fewer units, including some designed for seniors. Apartments and townhomes would vary in price so as to be affordable but also attract new, higher paying renters as well.

According to the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Dana Cutler, some residents felt they got incomplete information about what the new plan entailed.

“It’s like if you go to buy a car and the salesman says ‘We’re giving you something with four wheels and a roof,’” says Cutler. “But you don’t know if it’s going to be a Rolls Royce or a hooptie.”

Plaintiffs feared loans to carry out the redevelopment would jack up their rents and price them out of their homes. 

After the election on Saturday, a new board will address how to go about making changes on which all residents can agree.

Laura Ziegler is a community engagement reporter and producer at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @laurazig or at lauraz@kcur.org.