Troost Neighbors Unite To Fight Blight, Bring Plan To Kansas City Commission

Jul 6, 2015

The proposed design standards aim to make Troost a more vibrant, livable community. Architects, city planners and local nonprofits have all dedicated their time and talent to the Troost Coalition's drafted plan.
Credit Caroline Kull / KCUR

Updated, 10:50 a.m. Friday:   

A proposal to reduce blight along the Troost Avenue corridor in Kansas City has received initial approval from the City Plan Commission.

 

Commissioners backed the plan in a unanimous vote Wednesday, sending the plan to the Planning and Zoning Committee for review on July 15.

 

The original post continues below:

 

A group of Troost Avenue neighbors and urban planners want to fight blight on the Kansas City corridor by changing the street’s development code.

 

After three years of collaboration, they’ve created a plan and will bring it to the Kansas City Council's Plan Commission Tuesday.

 

In a review meeting last week, the Troost Coalition unveiled the final draft of the plan, which focuses on the strip of Troost Avenue from 22nd Street to Brush Creek Boulevard. It’s an area characterized by empty lots and once-majestic buildings riddled with decay.  

That’s exactly what the proposed development standards seek to change. The coalition wants to make the area a more vibrant, livable neighborhood.

Under the plan, all new developments would be a minimum of two stories to increase density, with attractive storefronts right on the sidewalk to entice pedestrians. The buildings also would need to be made of durable, "appealing" materials like brick and stone.

These changes may seem small, but residents say they’re necessary first steps.

 

“This is a funeral for how Troost has been for the last three decades ... It declined because our attention was away from Troost. Now we are putting our attention back on Troost,” says Spark Bookhart, vice president of the Longview Community Association.

 

This is not the first time members of the Troost Coalition has tried to change the historically divisive street. At the end of 2014, the Kansas City Council sided with the coalition, reining in Troost's anything-goes zoning code.

 

After 10 years of living on Troost, Cathryn Simmons says she knew residents couldn't fight the blight alone.

“It needed doing. And I felt very strongly, personally, that this had to be done by the neighborhoods," Simmons says. "Not the people who own property, not the people who have a stake in commercial interest, which is all OK to have, but it doesn’t drive the same bus.”

At Hoop Dog Studios, detailed urban planning blueprints are juxtaposed with interactive pieces by Troost-based artist Lori Buntin, inviting the public to be a part of the planning process.
Credit Caroline Kull / KCUR

Simmons says the plan has captured the attention of architects and planners across the city because it simultaneously encourages development and leaves little room for gentrification.

If the Kansas City Plan Commission approves the Troost Coalition's proposal, it will head to the Planning and Zonning Committee before being considered by the full City Council.

  This look at Kansas City's east side is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism. 

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what's being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences east of Troost Avenue with KCUR