By Jill Draper
Developers are floating the idea of replacing four single-family homes just south of the Minor Park Golf Course with 34 townhome-style condominiums. The townhomes would range in size from 1,700 to 2,000-square feet and would sell for $350,000 to $450,000.
“This is a front-end discussion,” said Charles Renner of the Husch Blackwell law firm at a meeting of the Center Planning and Development Council on Dec. 1. “We want feedback.”
Renner, along with representatives of Iron Door Development, HJM Architects and Anderson Engineering, said the four lots at the southeast corner of Holmes Road and 115th Street are now zoned single-family. The developers are interested in seeking a site-specific Master Plan Development rezoning which would only apply to this project, he said.
The two-story townhomes would be grouped into six duplexes, six triplexes and one quadplex on 3.4 acres. Each unit would include three bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms, one single-car garage and one covered space for a second car. A private road would wind through the complex, and a detention pond would be built on the east side.
Some members of the audience questioned whether people would purchase a $400,000 home with a one-car garage, but realtor Stacey Johnson-Cosby, who hosted the meeting as vice president of Center Planning and Development, said she thought the project would attract buyers in today’s market, especially those looking for new property with little maintenance. Others asked if the complex would have any green space for families with children. Amin Rezvani of Iron Door Development said there would be some space around the detention pond.
Iron Door expects to submit plans to city officials in early 2022.
The townhome discussion was followed by a presentation by 5th District Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw, who chairs the Mayor’s Houseless Task Force. Shaw announced that Kansas City has distributed more than $14 million in federal funds for emergency rental assistance since the pandemic. More federal funds are expected in the future.
The task force is working on an extreme weather plan with the goal of reducing risk and death during the winter. This includes creating an online dashboard that shows real-time availability of shelter beds, using community centers for overflow beds after shelters are full, and organizing warming buses that will be equipped with social workers and various resources.
Last year, especially during the Arctic freeze, people dropped off an assortment of blankets, coats, food and money for the houseless. “It was a little overwhelming,” Parks-Shaw remembered. This year there is a drop-off center at 1700 E. 8th St. Cash donations can be given through the Keep Caring KC Fund at UWGKC – MobileCause https://app.mobilecause.com.
The extreme weather plan calls for a partnership of some two dozen local agencies including Kansas City Public Libraries, American Red Cross, United Way, City Union Mission, reStart, Shelter KC, Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness, SAVE, Our Spot KC, Care Beyond the Boulevard, Creative Innovative Entrepreneurs, Hope Faith and various city departments.
“Kansas City is managing issues here that are regional,” Parks-Shaw said. “I’m trying to bring others to the table. We’re building a coalition of different leaders, and I’ve asked MARC (Mid-America Regional Council) to join us.” She noted that women and children will be given priority, and that since the pandemic, there are a lot more newly houseless people sleeping in cars and “surfing” from sofa to sofa than most realize.
Some members of the audience questioned the city’s policy of placing homeless persons in hotels and Bartle Hall last year. Others complained about panhandlers and suggested they were responsible for an increase in shoplifting at QuikTrip on Wornall and Price Chopper and the former Westlake Ace Hardware store on 103rd Street. The city should not allow this to happen, some said.
“The answer is an ordinance, if we can get somebody bold enough,” said Johnson-Cosby.
“Yeah, where are our 6th District people?” grumbled one person. (Councilwoman Andrea Bough and Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McManus did not attend the meeting.) Another person mentioned that Austin, Texas, voters recently approved a proposition making it illegal to camp in public places or solicit money except under specific conditions.
Shortly after the meeting, Parks-Shaw announced she had contacted the new director of Parks and Recreation about the homeless on 103rd Street, and a follow-up meeting to discuss the community’s concerns will be scheduled. She also confirmed that the city spent less than $1,000 last winter to repair two toilets and one broken window at Bartle Hall after it was used to shelter people during the cold freeze.
Trash and Litter
There also were complaints about the ongoing problem of trash and litter in the community. Parks-Shaw said the city passed new legislation to double its bulky item pickup dates. Trucks have been ordered, she noted, but it will be 12 to 18 months before they can be delivered.