By LESLIE COLLINS
February 6, 2013
Scenes of Historic Northeast grabbed Amanda Kranz’s attention as she stumbled upon the local blog Hyperblogal.
From snow speckled mansions to the curves of Cliff Drive to the piercing glow of sunset at Scarritt Point, the blog whispered the story of Northeast through David Remley’s photographs.
The Northeast photographer’s blog became indelible in her mind and Amanda knew she needed to explore Northeast for herself.
Amanda and her husband, Gabe, had recently moved from an Omaha, Neb., suburb to Kansas City for Amanda’s job as the associate director of admissions in the Kansas, Missouri and East St. Louis territory for Creighton University. Their apartment near the Kansas City International Airport didn’t quite suit them.
When Amanda and Gabe headed to Northeast for a Saturday stroll along Cliff Drive, they met an area resident who said they should attend a neighborhood association meeting to learn more about Northeast.
The two attended a Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association meeting in June of 2012 and the idea of moving to Northeast began to cement.
“What I heard was a bunch of passionate people who really cared and it seemed like they were trying to do good things and that’s something that really resonated with me,” she said.
Over the summer, they explored more of Northeast and became regular attendees at the Kansas City Museum’s summer concert series.
When they told others they were considering moving to Northeast, looks of disapproval greeted them.
“Just this look of horror would come over people’s faces – ‘Oh, you poor thing. You’re being taken advantage of. You don’t want to be there,’” Amanda said.
Friends and acquaintances promoted the Waldo and Brookside area, but the Kranz’s got the impression those areas were more about keeping up with the Joneses then befriending one’s neighbor.
“We really wanted to find a neighborhood feel,” Amanda said.
And that’s exactly what they found in Northeast.
It was a drastic change from their cookie cutter neighborhood in Nebraska where every house looked identical and backyard patios secluded neighbors from one another. Greetings would consist of a polite wave or ‘How are you,’ as neighbors pulled their car into the garage and closed the door.
“So, living in a suburb was okay. We had a nice place, a neat house and that was it,” Gabe said. “It wasn’t a neighborhood. As much as we wanted to try to be involved in the neighborhood and meet everybody, it would just never develop. It (Northeast) definitely has the feel of the neighborhood we’ve been striving for and looking for for years now.”
When the Kranz’s first moved in, a nearby neighbor greeted them with a plate of cookies and the neighborhood association president introduced them to others in the neighborhood.
Scarritt’s friendly nature reminded Gabe of his hometown of Fremont, Neb., where everybody knew everybody and said hello.
“I’ll be out front working on the yard and I’ve met a number of people just walking by, and that’s a nice feeling that people want to know you and we want to know our neighbors as well,” he said of Scarritt Renaissance.
If it wasn’t for Remley’s blog, the Kranz’s doubt they would have discovered Northeast.
“I don’t know that anybody else would have showed it to us and that’s really a shame. We’d really like to change that,” Amanda said.
What initially impressed Amanda about Northeast while perusing the blog, was the number of amenities located in one area, like Cliff Drive, the only urban scenic byway in Missouri, the Kansas City Museum, The Concourse and the variety of historical homes.
“He doesn’t write a whole lot. It’s mostly pictures. That really drew me in,” she said. “His photography is wonderful. The first thing I said to him when I met him is that, ‘Your blog is the reason we live here.’”
“It was very gratifying,” Remley said, who started his photography blog three years ago. “It was very flattering since my goal is in part to share Northeast with others. It makes you feel good to meet a reader who is enthusiastic about your work, and then your work has a motivation for them to actually move to where you live. It’s really awesome – you don’t always get feedback from blogs.”
Remley’s blog features gems throughout Kansas City, but 80 percent of the blog is dedicated to Northeast, he said.
“It’s easy to sell Northeast because we have so many unique things, both architecturally and also in terms of parks,” Remley said.
Over Labor Day weekend, the Kranz’s moved into their Northeast home, a 1929 tudor along Gladstone Boulevard. They call her Girtie.
The day after they closed on the house, the basement flooded due to heavy rains and the Kranz’s spent the day cleaning up and unclogging the gutters.
“I said, “You’re killing me, Girtie! You’re killing me,’” Amanda said, laughing.
Then, there was the fiasco of moving their queen-size box spring to the upstairs bedroom. (It didn’t make it up the stairs). With tight quarters, the box spring got stuck along the stairway, making it impossible to move to the bedroom. That’s when the Kranz’s did a Google search and came across a YouTube video of how to cut and fold your box spring to squeeze it up the stairs of an older home.
When Gabe installed a new chandelier and several light fixtures, Amanda said she was a “nervous wreck” and wondered if she needed to grab a fire extinguisher. The wiring wasn’t labeled well and Gabe wasn’t sure if he wired it correctly, she said.
“The chandelier was more fun than we could possibly imagine when we put it up,” he said sarcastically. “But, we got it up.”
“It’s always an adventure in this house,” Amanda said, “but we’re lucky that it doesn’t need a whole heck of a lot of work. Much of it had been updated already.”
Despite the updates, it’s still an old home, she said.
“I just want everything to be right and perfect right away. It overwhelms me because you just can’t do that in an old house,” Amanda said. “You have to tackle projects one by one. You have to take a step back and say, ‘Sometimes things are good enough and that’s okay.’”
In Nebraska, the Kranz’s owned a brand new home with handpicked carpet and other amenities, so they weren’t accustomed to fixing things. They’ve learned, however, they’re more handy than they thought.
“It’s been interesting being in an older house and realizing we can probably do more ourselves than we thought we could,” Amanda said. “I never thought we were all that handy.”
“She’s spent years saying, ‘You’re not that handy,’” Gabe said. “I enjoy tackling the little projects, doing a little bit of this and that. It gives me something to do.”
For 17 years, Gabe worked in the golf industry, most recently working as a head golf professional for a company in Omaha. It was time for a career change, however, and now Gabe is working on a computer science degree and interning at Cerner. His golf clubs aren’t gathering dust, though – he’s exploring all the golf courses in the Kansas City metro.
“The newness of everything is a lot of fun for me,” he said. “We like the bigger city commotion.”
Along with the bigger city commotion comes additional crime, but the Kranz’s are taking it in stride. They’ve heard gunshots at three in the afternoon and realize the neighborhood’s vacant houses attract vandalism. For the Kranz’s, the positives of Northeast outweigh any negatives, and they live in a neighborhood where residents truly care about keeping the neighborhood safe and looking out for one another, she said. There’s also great collaboration between the neighborhood, city and police, she added.
“We’ve received such a warm welcome,” she said. “We’ve seen from day one this is a neighborhood. I don’t regret being here at all. In fact, the more time that we are here, the better we continue to feel about our decision to be here. For all the good we saw in it, that good is there.”