By Kevin Collison
A proposed 48-unit affordable apartment project that also would include the former House of Hits building is the latest in a surge of redevelopment either underway or in the works in the 18th and Vine District.
The $21 million Jazz III project would occupy the entire south side of 18th Street between The Paseo and Vine. It calls for the apartments to be built above 7,200 square-feet of retail space that would include renovating the 120 year-old House of Hits building.
“What’s exciting is it’s right across the street from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum project,” said Kelvin Simmons, one of the developers.
“Right now, there are three or four projects that are large in scope than the original 18th and Vine investment in 1997.”
Other major developments either underway or proposed in the 18th and Vine area are:
–The proposed $25 million Negro Leagues Museum expansion at 18th and The Paseo.
–The 80-unit One Nine Vine apartment project at 19th and Vine now under construction.
–The 2000 Vine renovation project, which is restoring two historic buildings at 20th and Vine and has begun leasing.
–The $20 million renovation of the historic Attucks School at 1815 Woodland into the Zhou B. Art Center now under construction.
–The proposed $10- $15 million renovation of the Wendell Phillips school at 24th and Vine into a health campus and construction of affordable homes across the street.
–The planned reconstruction by the city of 18th Street between The Paseo and Woodland as a pedestrian-friendly corridor at an estimated cost of more than $6.5 million.
–A proposed $23 million residential renovation project on Vine between 18th and 19th streets that also would incorporate historic facades.
–The proposed $3 million renovation of the historic Boone Theater at 1710 E. 18th into a media and entertainment center.
Simmons, a former City Council member, said the 18th and Vine area is benefiting from the reinvestment that’s been occurring in greater downtown in recent years.
“You’ve got to believe that downtown is significantly moving and the East Side is moving and you have people now who understand how to do this kind of development with subsidies and private funding,” he said.
“This is happening. It’s not just a vision anymore.”
While the Jazz III project is not fully financed yet, it took a big step forward Wednesday when the City Council Neighborhood, Planning and Development Committee endorsed a $4 million allocation from the Central City Economic Development program.
Simmons, whose other partners are veteran 18th and Vine developer McCormack Baron and Leonard Graham, told the committee they will be seeking state low-income housing tax credits, and federal New Market tax credits as part of their funding package.
If successful in arranging the necessary financing, the project is anticipated to be completed by 2026.
All the one- and two-bedroom apartments in the proposed Jazz III project would be affordable to renters earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income.
The Metro Kansas City AMI for a one-person household per federal guidelines is about $67,700 and $77,500 for two people.
The developers hope the apartments could be attractive to artists potentially drawn to the nearby Zhou B. Art Center. The art center will include both studio and gallery space to artists.
In addition to the residential component, the Jazz III proposal includes incorporating the House of Hits building, a city-owned property at 1511-13 E. 18th St. that collapsed two years ago. It also would redevelop two adjoining parking lots.
Simmons said the $4 million cash subsidy from the Central City Economic Development program was essential to financing the plan.
The program is funded by a special 1/8th cent sales tax approved by city voters in 2017 to help economic development on the East Side.
“This would not have happened without it,” Simmons said. “It provided the seed money to leverage other funds.”
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