By John Hoffman, principal and co-founder of UC-B Properties
The recent editorial in The Kansas City Star entitled “Stop the Denverization of Kansas City. Troost doesn’t need to be hipster-friendly” sparked an interest worth responding to by someone who has been developing along Troost for the last 10 years.
Whoever was responsible for the content of this editorial has either just arrived in Kansas City or has never left their office to see for themselves the current condition of neighborhoods east Troost.
First, I find it curious that Denver is mentioned. It could have been Indianapolis for that matter.
Developers building in blighted urban areas in both communities have found that Kansas City is 10 years behind in redeveloping areas of our city left to deteriorate by those who fled to the suburbs outside the I-435 beltway.
With the current headcount in Kansas City Public Schools at 80 percent below where it stood in the 1960s, there are many neighborhoods struggling to improve their living conditions.
The challenges include distressed housing, few services, below standard education and rising utility costs.
It is a positive not a negative that these successful developers have seen the undervalued areas in our community worthy of improvement.
Secondly, whenever the critics malign those of us who chose to take the risks involved to improve these distressed neighborhoods, we hear the term gentrification as the negative soundbite that incites criticism and disapproval.
Even John Wood, vice president of Housing Development for Kansas City, notes there is no gentrification, as he defines it, existing along or east of Troost.
There are several types of developers working along and east of Troost. I’ve said many times UC-B Properties builds workforce/market rate housing.
We blend our developments with others who do low and moderate housing. We try to be catalytic, hoping that others around us will improve their properties as we do our work. We can’t be all things to all people.
We hope in the future those who choose to look at the Troost corridor will understand and support all of us working in this important area of the city.
John Hoffman is native of Kansas City. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1963. Hoffman joined the Peace Corps and volunteered in Colombia for two years before joining the staff in Washington, D.C. After three years in the U.S. Army, he moved back to Kansas City and joined the investment firm of Dean Witter/Morgan Stanley. After 33 years, Hoffman retired in 2002 to devote full time to rebuilding the urban core.
Currently, UC-B Properties is building a La Quinta Hotel to be ready Summer 2019 at 24th and Troost; Scholars Row, 55th and Troost, 50 apartments ready now with rent starting at $850 per month; a 182-unit, market rate apartment project at 27th and Troost in partnership with Indianapolis-based Milhaus, ready mid-2019; Mt. Prospect, 31 single family homes north of Beacon Hill, and an 89-unit apartment project at Linwood and Troost.
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