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. 

Charlie Parker was born on Aug. 29, 1920. For three years now, Kansas City jazz organizations have marked his birthday week with a Charlie Parker Celebration, trying to increase hometown appreciation for the influential jazz saxophonist.

bluhawk.com

Just think, for a moment, about how many great sports stories begin with an open field, or an empty stretch of asphalt. Maybe a cornfield. An old sandlot.

Iknowthegoods / Wikimedia Commons

After months of debate, Thursday's Kansas City Council vote was unanimous, but the $7 million commitment had reverted to a level similar to the first proposal made seven months ago.

In the meantime, estimates for improving the historic Jazz District had ballooned to as much as $12 million to start. The remainder of the $27.6 million total cost is expected to be divided into two more phases over a three-year period.

Supporters called it a most-expensive-case scenario, predicting that private investment would end up paying a large portion of the expense.

A new plan for 18th and Vine Jazz District upgrades trims phase one commitment to $7 million.
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

City Council discussions have produced a new, scaled back proposal for improvements to the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District.

Councilman Jermaine Reed tried to bring a $27.6 million, three-phase plan to a vote in last Thursday's legislative session, but called for a postponed vote when support failed to materialize.

The main concerns other council members expressed had to do with the total financial commitment on the part of the city and making that commitment before exploring the possibility of reducing the burden through private investment.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

With three last-minute alternatives on the table and no apparent consensus, Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed backed down Thursday on his plan to force a vote on Jazz District improvements.

Reed had already softened his original stance that the council should fully commit to $27.6 million in three-phase funding for the 18th and Vine area.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As the Kansas City Council considers more than $27 million in new investments in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District, leaders of the district’s oldest landmark want to make sure City Hall respects the special status of the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

It’s a sacred place not just because alcohol flows legally there after hours.

Things are moving ahead in the 18th & Vine district of Kansas City, Missouri, but not everyone is happy with the decisions being made. Last Wednesday, KCUR 89.3 partnered with The Call to host a forum about the future of the district, and we kept the microphones open for two hours. Here are highlights from that evening.

Click here to listen to the entire town hall forum. 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

"We need to finish the 18th and Vine District," said Kansas City, Missouri, Manager Troy Schulte in an opening statement at Wednesday evening's public forum on three different but intersecting plans for the historic Jazz District.

Schulte was joined on the pulpit of the Centennial United Methodist Church by 3rd District Councilman-at-Large Quinton Lucas and Harrietta Harris, a plaintiff in the court challenge to a private development plan for the Parade Park Homes.

The KCMO City Council is debating a $27 million improvement package for the historic Jazz District at 18th and Vine. We look at the ongoing effort to revitalize and enhance the area — and hear why it has special meaning for some Kansas Citians.

Tonight's town hall meeting about the future of 18th and Vine starts at 6 p.m. at Centennial United Methodist Church.

Guests:

file photo: Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The late dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, believed that "dance is for everybody." That philosophy extends to an event in its second year called Festival on the Vine: three days of dance, art and live performance in the historic 18th and Vine jazz district. 

The festival was created by Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, the second home for Ailey's New York-based dance company. Chief artistic officer Tyrone Aiken walked us through some things to know: 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The biggest priority on Kansas City's $27.6 million proposal for tuning up the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District has nothing to do with bricks and mortar.

It’s about assuming ownership of most of the properties in the six-block district and forging a common approach to marketing and managing the area, according to City Manager Troy Schulte.

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.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's 18th and Vine shares similar roots with Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. And both of these music-infused, historically African-American districts have gone through ups and downs over the decades. 

Beale Street is now a thriving tourist destination with restaurants, bars, and shops, although some of its lively streetscape includes facades of historic buildings propped up with steel girders. 

Curve Ball

May 23, 2016
Greg Echlin / KCUR

A swanky new baseball facility in the 18th and Vine district, sponsored by Major League Baseball, raises big questions: Are black kids still playing baseball? Are sports a "way out" for youth? Will the coaches come from the surrounding neighborhood? And what about the kids?

Guests:

americanjazzmuseum.com

Kansas City jazz fans take note: The executive director of the American Jazz Museum says we will have a world-class jazz festival and it will debut in just one year.

A City Council committee this week approved a renewal for the museum to continue to manage the 18th and Vine project. Jazz Museum Executive Director Cheptoo Kositani-Buckner used the occasion to tout the accomplishments of the district she has managed since January.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City street corner is immortalized in words known worldwide:

I'm gonna be standing on the corner
12th Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby
And a bottle of Kansas City wine.

But why 12th Street? Why doesn’t the song refer to 18th Street and Vine, the corner at the heart of the city’s historic jazz district, which also purports to be internationally famous?

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

The historic district at 18th and Vine in Kansas City, Missouri , a half mile east of the flourishing Crossroads Arts District , is itself at a crossroads.    

Again. 

The city will soon hold hearings on a $28 million dollar package of renovations. Projects include improvements for the Negro Leagues and American Jazz Museums, the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and beautification projects.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas Citians' First Friday entertainment options get wider this week with the debut of festivities along 18th and Vine.

Starting on May 6, arts organizations in the historic Jazz District will host live music and storytelling performances, food trucks, art and fashion displays, shopping and even "instructions on the latest dance trends" including "heels, hip hop, break dancing, vogue and pop, and dip and spin" courtesy of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Parade Park in the 18th and Vine district will get a new look next year with the completion of the Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy. It’s aimed at motivating more kids to play baseball and softball, but some are hoping it along with a proposed $27 million investment from the city could revitalize the historic area.  

Finding the next Lorenzo Cain

Courtesy Photo, Steve Paul

In many ways, Kansas City is a different city than it was 30 years ago. But in some ways, it’s the same.

Take it from two people whose job has been to write about it for the last three decades or so.

Editorial page writers Barbara Shelly and Steve Paul recently took buyouts at The Kansas City Star after 32 and 41-year-careers at the paper, respectively.

LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library / UMKC

On the same morning as Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte held a press conference at 18th and Vine to propose $28 million in new funding to continue revitalization of the historic district, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, in Washington, introduced a resolution proclaiming Kansas City, Missouri, as "the Home of Jazz."

In the clear interests of diplomacy, Cleaver also recognized New Orleans as "the Birthplace of Jazz."

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri officials and leaders on Thursday morning gathered at the intersection of 18th and Vine to announce a revitalization plan that would require a city commitment of $27.6 million — nearly $10 million more than proposed in January.

If approved by the City Council, city bonds would be tapped to pay for about a dozen projects over the next three years. Private funds would also be leveraged. 

Neighborhood Radio

Apr 12, 2016

Two local organizations are gearing up to start low-power FM stations to broadcast to specific communities within a 3-5 mile radius of the broadcast location. One of them, broadcasting from the Mutual Musicians Foundation, will focus on local jazz, gospel and soul at 18th and Vine. The other has an educational and community service mission. What's the story?

Guests:

  • Lewis George Walker, co-founder, KUAW 98.5 FM
  • James McGee, general manager, KOJH 104.7
Couresy of Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

It’s been almost a hundred years since Prohibition, which, ironically, were some of the booziest years in Kansas City history. And although local chef Tim Tuohy is a newcomer to the area, he’s already learning the history of that time.

Tuohy works for Tom’s Town, a new distillery in the Crossroads that makes small-batch gin, vodka and whiskey on site, and is named for the man who just might be the patron saint of KC drinkers. 

“You know, Kansas City had an extremely rich beer and alcohol culture that really flourished here as a result of … Tom Pendergast,” Tuohy says.

Courtesy Logan Richardson

Logan Richardson
Shift (Blue Note)

The booklet that accompanies Logan Richardson’s monumental new album Shift contains four pages of manga-style graphic art. One panel depicts the saxophonist as a child standing on the corner of 18th & Vine in Kansas City’s Jazz District. He soon encounters Ahmad Alaadeen, an area jazz hero who is shown in the miniature comic book diligently tutoring his promising young disciple.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

If you've been to the Mutual Musicians Foundation or even driven past 1823 Highland Ave. lately, you might do a double take. The formerly bright pink building is now brown. 

"Why keep the pink?" asks executive director Anita Dixon, with a laugh. "We've got a 100-year history ahead of us and we chose a palette that we liked. And it's not really brown, it's kind of beige." 

KCMO Housing and Neighborhood Services / Opendata KC

The Kansas City Missouri City Council on Thursday received a proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 from Mayor Sly James and City Manager Troy Schulte that would make big changes in vacant housing and boost funding for the arts.

The key proposal from the $1.5 billion budget would issue a $10 million bond to raze more than 800 dangerous houses, most of which sit east of Prospect Avenue.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you look at the travel brochures about Kansas City, or talk to the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District is always listed among the top destinations.

People come from all over the world in search of that distinctive Kansas City sound.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council recently tasked the city manager's office with reviewing a proposed $18 million in additional spending for projects in the 18th and Vine Historic District. It's been more than 25 years since the council committed $20 million in sales taxes to begin redevelopment of an iconic Kansas City neighborhood that had crumbled.

A new plan for 18th and Vine Jazz District upgrades trims phase one commitment to $7 million.
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The 18th and Vine Jazz District played a crucial role in Kansas City's history as a center for African-American commerce and culture. Today, it's home to the American Jazz Museum, Black Archives of Mid-America, Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and more.

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