18th and Vine

Credit Neil Nakahodo for KCUR

  

In this ongoing series, KCUR 89.3 explores the past, present and future of the historic 18th and Vine District. 

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

The Crossroads Academy hopefully has found a new permanent home for its downtown high school, the long-vacant, historic Attucks School in the 18th & Vine Jazz District.

The charter school has submitted a bid to the city to buy the old building at 1815 Woodland Ave. If accepted, it could ultimately house 500 high school students attending the expanding Crossroads Academy program.

Courtesy Kartez Marcel

Four kids are writing intently, their heads buried in paper. If it weren't a Saturday night and a hip-hop instrumental wasn't drowning out all other sounds, you might think school is in session at the Gregg/Klice Community Center.

William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

It’s time for the weekend, which means attendant smiles can’t be far behind.

Ways to get happy include a cheerful mix of music, comedy and sports designed to stir pleasant memories, tickle fancies and raise any flagging spirits.

Grin and wear it!

1. Lionel Richie with Mariah Carey

Courtesy Bloodstone

Bloodstone, a silky soul band that rose to prominence in the 1970s, is one of the most commercially successful groups to emerge from Kansas City.

Their classic R&B slow jam “Natural High” peaked at #10 on Billboard’s pop chart on July 21, 1973. Bloodstone was so popular that the band starred in the 1975 blaxploitation movie Train Ride to Hollywood.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

It's been a year since the Kansas City Council approved $7 million in funding for projects in the 18th and Vine district, such as stabilizing historic buildings and adding new streetscaping. On Wednesday, city officials provided a progress report. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The American Jazz Museum still has about $150,000 in outstanding vendor bills. That’s despite catching up on payments to the musicians who played at the Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival over Memorial Day weekend.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Financial woes at the American Jazz Museum aren't sitting well with city and state officials. 

"I'm concerned, like a lot of other people, about what's going on," says Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. "I don't think we ought to ignore this, ignore the problems, or dismiss them lightly."

CJ Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Update: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. to include a city funding update. 

After experiencing "a cash flow issue" following the inaugural Kansas City Jazz and Heritage Festival over Memorial Day weekend, officials with the American Jazz Museum say all performers have been paid — after some musicians complained on social media earlier this week.

The poet Mbembe Milton Smith wrote some provocative words about a Kansas City suburb:

“There are uncharted places like Overland Park, Kansas or Greenwich Connecticut where they lock their back door if they heard black power was coming cause black folk wouldn’t dare come round the front.”

For a person of color, those words might articulate a vague feeling of uneasiness that accompanies a visit to Johnson County even today. But they come from the poem "Allegory of the Bebop Walk," written decades ago.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

When Makeda Peterson was growing up, history was personal to her.

Her father, Horace Peterson III, founded the Black Archives of Mid-America. He also started Kansas City’s Juneteenth celebration in 1980.

As a current organizer and coordinator of Juneteenth KC, she is continuing his legacy.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's inaugural Jazz and Heritage Festival accomplished something rarely seen in town: A genuinely diverse crowd of people enjoying themselves.

For three days over the Memorial Day weekend, that audience was perhaps most diverse in its musical tastes.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

It was the usual 4 a.m. scene at the Mutual Musicians Foundation: a rotating combination of jazz musicians on the crowded stage; fans of all ages, races and preferred libations sitting in metal chairs around mismatched formica tables tapping their feet and yelling encouragement to the players; long-dead jazz legends surveying the raucous scene from black-and-white photographs on red walls. Except this time, sun was beaming in the windows.

Courtesy Oleta Adams

A popular lounge singer in Kansas City in the 1980s, Oleta Adams had a massive pop hit in 1991 with the heartfelt ballad “Get Here.” She's back in town on Sunday for a main-stage performance at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Jim Mathis / Johnson County Library

Kansas City, Missouri, voters approved a series of general obligation bonds aimed at improving infrastructure throughout the metro, and totaling more than $800 million. Today, Councilman Quinton Lucas tells us how he expects the investments to affect local communities. Then, public libraries may be facing cuts at both federal and state levels. We speak with local library directors to find out how they are faring in an era of "skinny budgets."

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It's been nearly 30 years since six Kansas City firefighters were killed in an explosion after responding to a call about a truck on fire. A few weeks ago, Bryan Sheppard, one of five sentenced to life in prison, was released, because juvenile sentencing laws have changed since the time of the then 17-year-old's conviction. We check-in with Sheppard on life after prison.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

At first glance, the painter Ada Koch and the poet Glenn North might seem an unlikely pair. But what has emerged from their collaboration — Love, Loss & Violence: A Visual Dialogue on War, an art exhibit opening this weekend at the Kansas City Artists Coalition and an accompanying book — illustrates with painful honesty that certain fears are universal.

Courtesy Trombone Shorty

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect developments since its publication Wednesday afternoon.

Kansas City has another chance to get the concept of a jazz festival right — though its rollout suggested organizers were not yet ready for the national stage.

Julie Denesha and Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Updated 3:30 p.m.  

"While the flames were dramatic, the fire damage could have been worse," stated City Manager Troy Schulte in a news release. "The redevelopment plan will move forward on schedule."

City officials said Thursday that despite the damage to two of the buildings in the historic 18th and Vine jazz district "there are no plans to demolish the surviving facades as a result of the fire."

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com/

Mark Bedell faces a big challenge; leading Kansas City Public Schools back to full accreditation. Today, the superintendent talks about his first sixth months on the job, and his plans to improve grades and raise graduation rates. Then, jazz icon Ramsey Lewis explains how he's using his piano to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Over concerns about the exclusivity of the local tech scene, one Kansas City man wants to create a startup community near the 18th and Vine District for minority entrepreneurs. We also hear from a former Kansas City Star writer about her life in the Flint Hills and the transition to new work.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Over the last few years, the country’s tech giants — Google, Twitter and Facebook — have all been called out for their mostly white and mostly male staffs.

Diversity has become a top priority in Silicon Valley. 

Vewiser Dixon, an area entrepreneur, wants to help Kansas City avoid the image plaguing Silicon Valley — by building a tech space from the ground up, with diversity hardwired into its core.

City of Kansas City Missouri

Kansas City officials kicked off the redevelopment of Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine Jazz district on Monday with the demolition of the old Black Chamber of Commerce Building at the corner of 18th and Paseo.

The building was vacant and not historic. 

The demolition marks 150 days since the Kansas City Council approved $7 million for the first phase of re-development, which includes renovating historic buildings and building a new streetscape and street lighting to better connect the jazz district to the Crossroads district.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Council approved $7 million in funding in July for the historic 18th and Vine jazz district to stabilize historic buildings and acquire properties not under city control.

The Council’s finance committee met on Wednesday and approved $44,000 in additional funding. 

NLBM

Don Motley, who coached amateur baseball around Kansas City for decades and later in life became a driving force for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, died Sunday. He was 89. 

"Coach Motley, as he was affectionately known, gave nearly two decades of his illustrious life to help build the NLBM and guided it to unprecedented fiscal heights," Bob Kendrick, president of the museum, said in a statement. "His impact on the organization will be felt for generations to come."

Motley served as executive director for the museum from 1991 until he retired in 2008. 

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When the American Jazz Museum unveils a new mural during First Friday festivities on November 4, it won't just reflect the 18th and Vine District's lively and colorful jazz history. It's also a statement about today, its lead painter says.

"This project is an effort to show the community how important it is to work together," says lead artist Michael Toombs, the founder and director of Storyteller's Inc.

After 122 literary agents rejected her work, Kansas novelist Bryn Greenwood finally found a publisher in August for All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. She reflects on her own experiences that lead to the complicated fictional tale of a young girl who grows up on a meth compound, and falls in love with an ex-con nearly 20 years her senior.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Each year in the fall, nearly 1,700 people enjoy Ailey II modern dance performances presented by the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. But besides being the official second home of the famed New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the local organization has another year-round mission: to create social change by encouraging diversity.

What is it like to go viral? We check in with a few Kansas Citians whose projects lead them to reach "trending" status in the Interweb. 

Plus, East and West 18th Streets in downtown Kansas City can feel worlds apart ... even though they're not. How local groups are working to bridge that gap.

Guests:

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.

Rendering courtesy of BNIM

After weeks of public hearings, the Kansas City Council was expected to vote Thursday on a tax incentive reform package

But debate on the floor, which lasted nearly two hours, resulted in a hold on the vote. 

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