Editor’s note: The following story was originally published by Startland News, an online news source helping readers discover a new Kansas City shaped by entrepreneurs, startups, creatives, makers and risk-takers. Click here to read the latest stories from Startland News.
Austin Barnes | Startland News
Decades of dreaming are coming to an end, said Father Justin Mathews, announcing the final phase of a $13 million capital campaign that’s expected to realize a long-held plan to magnify the impact of Reconciliation Services.
“We’ve been in the building since 1987 — and its been held together with duct tape, plaster, and prayer,” Mathews, executive director of Reconciliation Services, said of the organization’s homebase at the busy intersection of 31st Street and Troost Avenue, shedding light on its future amid a string of developments along the corridor.
Reconciliation Services launched its Reveal Strength campaign Tuesday morning, aiming to secure a final $4 million to renovate the historic building from the ground up.
Click here to make a contribution to the Reveal Strength campaign.
“This project is about creating living-wage jobs, scaling our impactful social and mental health services, and increasing equitable access to programming that connects neighbors and deepens community engagement, helping level the playing field for the more than 4,000 client-guests we work with annually,” an official description of the campaign reads.
Organizers have already raised $9 million in support of the project — including a $3 million commitment from the Sunderland Foundation.
Demolition within the building — which also houses Thelma’s Kitchen — is expected to begin in the spring, Mathews told Startland News, detailing the significance of the project and what it means for the residents who rely on the work of Reconciliation Services.
“Many of [our clients] have accessibility issues and our old building wasn’t built for that. So, first and foremost, we’re making it a dignified, accessible, and welcoming space for everybody,” he explained, adding that the organization also expects to double — and, in some cases, quadruple — the size of its spaces for trauma therapy, office, and social services, as well as greatly expand its capacity to offer Kansas Citians access to critical mental health services.
“Mental health services are desperately needed to address a myriad of community issues from houselessness to violence in the community,” Mathews said.
“We think that this work in this new building is really going to help to level the playing field for many of our neighbors.”
The upgraded facility is expected to include major safety upgrades to its overall structure, expanded preparation, storage, and kitchen space for Thelma’s Kitchen, and run on solar energy.
The building’s fifth floor — which burned down in the 1940s — will be rebuilt, expected to house an outdoor therapy garden, chapel, and administrative offices; all overlooking Kansas City.
“This is an investment in the Troost Corridor that is truly equitable. It really is in many ways a standout project,” he said.
“For those who want to see Troost development, but at the same time, want to see development that still welcomes the community that’s been there for generations — this is the project.”
The building’s design was completed by BNIM Architects. Straub and LM2 Construction will partner to bring it to life — putting a Black, woman-owned company in charge of one of Kansas City’s most equity-focused development projects to-date, Mathews added.
“We have very strong goals around minority and women participation [in this project.] If we’re going to make a $13 million investment, we want to try to maximize the economic, community building opportunity that that presents,” he said, referencing LM2’s status as a diverse, woman-owned business, founded and operated by LaTasha McCall.
“[LM2] has done a ton of work on the east side, and they’re going to be a vital partner — as well as Straub,” Mathews continued.
“This project has been in the works for years and I’m very excited that the things that we heard in the listening campaign from our neighbors, our clients, local community members — including other developers and other nonprofits — I’m super excited to see those dreams come to life.”
Watch Reconciliation Services’ Reveal Strength capital campaign video here.
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