East Side Revitalization Plan Passes First Hurdle in the Kansas City Council
By Samuel Ast, Political Reporter
On Wednesday, members of the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee discussed the prospects of an ‘‘East Side Revitalization’’ initiative that would establish policies that incentivize and encourage financial reinvestment as well as fund community improvement in Kansas City, predominantly in areas that are east of Troost, but that include portions of Hickman Mills in South Kansas City, as well.
The ordinance is the most recent example of action taken by the Kansas City council involving issues of housing, gentrification, tax relief, existing structure rehabilitation, and job creation.
Councilman Scott Taylor–who represents the City’s sixth district at-large, was a key player in the formation and sponsorship of the revitalization plan, and is running for mayor of Kansas City– says that in his seven years on the council, he has always supported development proposals, like the one passed out of committee today. “This has been the culmination of many, many months of meetings with a variety of groups”, adding that the City Council “really appreciates all of the community input that has been provided in this.”
The ordinance passed out of committee by a unanimous vote late on Wednesday, and among other things, directs the City Manager of Kansas City to find sources of revenue to fund $10 million in home improvement projects, as well as $3 million to demolish hazardous buildings.
Today’s ordinance is part of a larger plan to fund redevelopment in Kansas City. In April of 2017, voters approved a sales tax increase that, used in conjunction with the funding specified in today’s ordinance, would fund economic development projects in order to improve the quality of life for residents in the East Side of Kansas City, specifically areas along the corridors of Prospect and Troost. These are areas that supporters of the tax increase feel have been neglected by the city for far too long. So far, the sales tax increase has generated over $5.7 million and is expected to generate around $100 million over ten years.
Today’s ordinance outlines new funding for these projects that are separate from the revenue generated by the sales tax increase passed in 2017, though the City Council will likely use money from the sales tax for similar purposes.
“This ordinance is intended to give the East Side a boost to help attract more jobs and investment East of Troost,” Councilman Taylor said in a statement. Taylor continues, “We have a booming local economy but we need to make sure all parts of the city are growing in order for Kansas City to realize its full potential.”
The fate of the revitalization plan that was passed out of committee today will rest on the outcome of a full council vote next week on Thursday, October 18.
Other members of the City Council had busy days on Wednesday as well. Councilman Jermaine Reed, also running for mayor, held events in the 18th and Vine districts highlighting progress made on his sponsored development plans. Reed wants to use some of the proceeds, $3 million, from the Central City Economic Development Sales Tax to help fund the next phase of redevelopment projects near 18th and Vine.