Baltimore Demo Leaves Question, What’s Next?

This building that formerly housed the Jewish Vocational Service Dime Store is expected to be razed within the next three weeks. (Photo from Jackson County Property Records)

By Kevin Collison

A small commercial structure at 1626 Baltimore owned by philanthropist Shirley Helzberg has been razed and a building she owns next door is slated to be demolished soon, leaving Crossroads neighbors curious about her future plans.

The 14,000 square-foot vacant building at 1626 Baltimore was torn down recently. Pete Lacy, Helzberg’s real estate advisor, said the larger, former Jewish Vocational Service Dime Store at 1608 Baltimore is expected to be razed within the next couple weeks.

“We’re always concerned about the demolition of a previously occupied building when there’s no known plan for the site,” said David Johnson, co-chair of the Crossroads Community Association infrastructure committee.

A 14,000 square-foot vacant commercial building at 1626 Baltimore was recently demolished.

Both buildings were owned by Walnut Creek Ranch LLC, an entity controlled by Helzberg. She could not be reached for comment.

Lacy said there are no development plans for the site at this point, although there has been interest expressed by developers. The inquiries have been regarding potential apartment or office projects, or a combination of the two.

The JVS Dime Store has been vacant since 2016.

Both properties are on the same block as another building owned by a Helzberg-controlled entity, Mozart 1640 LLC. She had hoped to redevelop the building at 1640 Baltimore as a new headquarters for BNIM Architecture in 2015.

The BNIM plan fell through in early 2016 because of strong opposition to a request for tax incentives to help finance the project by anti-incentive groups and the Kansas City Public School District.

With Helzberg owning much of the west half of the block along Baltimore between 17th and 18th streets, it would be a major redevelopment site for a potentially large project.

Lacy, who’s firm is Lacy & Co., construction and real estate advisors, said there is no plan to demolish the building at 1640 Baltimore.

Another Helzberg-controlled property nearby, the historic Webster House at the northwest corner of 17th and Wyandotte, recently announced it would be the new home of the Kansas City Symphony.

Helzberg also owns the building where the Symphony will be leaving, the historic Vitagraph Building at the southeast corner of 17th and Wyandotte.

A plan to redevelop what’s now a vacant warehouse at 1640 Baltimore into a new headquarters for BNIM architecture fell through in 2016. (Rendering from BNIM)

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