Kansas City Council Committee Deadlocks On $27M Jazz District Improvement Plans

Jun 9, 2016

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A four hour hearing Wednesday left a Kansas City Council committee undecided on the fate of a $27.6 million plan for improvements to the 18th and Vine Jazz District. 

The request for city participation had virtually quadrupled from the $7 million version first proposed.

The plan had grown in its 6-month life to include historic preservation, infrastructure improvements, a fountain, outdoor amphitheater, apartments, retail and a connecting corridor to the Crossroads Arts District.

Two versions for organizing the bond financing were on the table and supporters emphasized that if things worked out as hoped the bond figure would not reach the $27.6 million maximum.

However, no estimate of a lower city investment under ideal conditions was presented.

Among the beneficiaries of the plan presented were the the American Jazz Museum, the historic Boone Theater, the Black Archives and the Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center.

But the plan drew oppositions from residents of the Parade Park housing area, who said they had not been consulted and were allowed no input on the plan.

Several council members were concerned about the total cost and proposed financing methods, especially when viewed in context with other city needs.  They also had concerns about the lack of a formal business plan or a proposal for who would manage the assets.

Committee member Jolie Justus was among those who endorse historic preservation aspects but are concerned about financial priorities.

“We've also had important conversations, frankly, about how we need to get kids walking on sidewalks to school instead of through the streets. I want to have this conversation when we are talking about the entire city,” Justus commented.

She also mentioned other worthy ethnic cultural opportunities not currently being addressed, such as those on the West Side.

At the hearing's end, an attempt to send the plan to the full council for a vote failed on a 4-4 vote.

Another hearing on the plan will be held on a future date.

Steve Bell is afternoon newscaster and business news reporter for KCUR.  He may be reached at 816-235-5173 or by e-mail as steveb@kcur.org