April 3, 2013
This newshound recently caught wind of some new developments near the corner of Independence and Chestnut that sure has us scratchin’ our heads. It seems a business group has filed with the city to redevelop the southwest corner with a brand spankin’ new building, adding new jobs on the Avenue and a potentially sizable revenue stream for the newly formed Independence Avenue Community Improvement District (CID). Most would say that’s a good thing.
Redeveloping the corner would mean razing an aging, non-historically significant structure (Sabor Centro Americano Restaurant); eradicating a vacant lot that’s presently a tangled mess of vines, brush and trees; erecting a brand new building; and the infusion of 15 to 20 new jobs in an economically depressed area of the city – all of which signal positive economic development for Historic Northeast. Win, win, win, right?
Apparently the folks at NEAT, an acronym for Northeast Alliance Together, don’t want this new development because it “encroaches on neighborhoods,” “further devastates historic homes” and isn’t “in sync” with their dream of an international marketplace along Independence Avenue. For the record, NEAT was dissolved in 1994 when the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce was chartered. A quick search of the Missouri Secretary of State’s website doesn’t show any record of any organization called NEAT, basically making this nothing more than a coffee klatch club.
This ol’ pro-business news-dog has been around the block a few times and knows this is exactly the kind of splinter group dissension that gets sound business projects killed because it shows potential developers that Northeast doesn’t work and play well with others. The Northeast Chamber of Commerce, an organization that, according to their mission statement is pro-business, needs to distance themselves from NEAT’s position and get behind this new development project in short order. Additionally, neighborhood associations need to back the project as it will likely employ local residents as well as become a contributor to area civic events such as ChalkWalk, Scarritt’s Halloween event, and more. Supporting the project would send a strong message that they are serious about jumpstarting the CID along the Avenue, as well as send a positive message to the existing business entities in the area, some long-time Chamber members, that their hard-earned dues payments haven’t been wasted over the years.