vacant homes

Cara McClain / KCUR

Rebecca Koop stood by Saturday watching as workers carted away the boards painted with images of gigantic playing cards. The artwork had covered the windows and doors of an abandoned apartment building at 702 Indiana in Kansas City's Historic Northeast neighborhood.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

There are thousands of vacant lots in Kansas City, Mo. In the Ivanhoe neighborhood, from 31st Street to Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard and Prospect to Paseo, the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council owns more than 150.

"Every lot can't be a community garden. Every lot can't be an urban farm. So it's like, what else can we do with these lots?" asks Dina Newman, who's coordinating a project in Ivanhoe called LOTS of Love.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Vacant lots are a problem for cities across the country. They’re costly for city budgets, as the lots have to be mowed and cleared of trash. For neighborhood residents, they can affect quality of life, and decrease property values.

There are thousands of vacant lots in Kansas City, Mo., including at least 3,000 parcels in the city’s Land Bank, and most of them are located east of Troost Avenue. A team of University of Missouri-Kansas City students spent the semester investigating vacancy and mapping out creative solutions.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

It's estimated Kansas City, Mo., has at least 4,000 to 5,000 vacant lots. These sites, sometimes weedy and filled with trash, contribute to neighborhood blight and lower property taxes.

This semester, 11 seniors in the Architecture, Urban Planning and Design department at UMKC documented the parcels of vacant land scattered across Kansas City, Mo. They zeroed in on an area with the highest rate of vacancies, predominantly in the urban core and east of Troost Avenue.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

The foreclosure crisis hit some of Kansas City 's neighborhoods hard, particularly neighborhoods that were already struggling with crime, disinvestment and people moving out.