New program, Invest Northeast, hopes to promote local business, urban renewal

Micah Wilkins
Northeast News
July 28, 2014

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Monday was a special day, according to Scott Wagner, First District At-Large representative, and not just because of the cooler weather.

On the morning of July 28, city officials and community members representing the Historic Northeast gathered in the Lykins neighborhood to announce a new re-development program, Invest Northeast. Organized by the Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT), this program hopes to bring about change and improvements to the historic neighborhood. According to Wagner, for Invest Northeast, the city leveraged $250,000 in one-time revenues from a prior redevelopment project in the Historic Northeast. That amount has already grown to $800,000 through investments.

“It’s all about trying to make the Northeast better and asking the community what they need,” Wagner said.

Wagner laid out the four phases of the program, which are designed to promote local businesses and encourage urban renewal. The business training scholarship program provides scholarships for business-related classes to aspiring and current business owners in the Northeast. Home and business owners who renovate their properties can qualify for a property tax abatement. Invest Northeast is providing micro-loans, which a handful of local businesses have already taken advantage of, between $500 and $50,000. The special northeast area targeted minor home repair program provides support to eligible homeowners for small, exterior housing repairs.

The city then collaborated with NEAT and the Mattie Rhodes Center to create tools and initiatives that support Historic Northeast businesses and residents.

“It has been tremendously important to have the city, and Councilman Wagner in particular, as the lead partner to get Invest Northeast off the ground,” said Leslie Caplan, president of NEAT. “The residents, nonprofits and businesses that comprise NEAT are extremely appreciative of the City’s dedication to this initiative.”

In addition to these programs, Invest Northeast is also sponsoring the demolition of several Northeast homes and buildings that have been deemed too dangerous.

“We have many dangerous buildings in the Historic Northeast,” Wagner said. “You can count them in the hundreds.”

After the announcement of the program, the city demolished a dangerous building at Seventh and Spruce Streets known for drug use, prostitution and gang-related activity and, according to Wagner, this is only the beginning of the efforts to address dangerous buildings in this area.

“I’ve spoken with the City Manager, Troy Schulte, and he says that next year the Northeast will be a targeted area for dangerous building demolition,” Wagner said.

Invest Northeast has also created a website, www.HNEKC.com, a logo and way-finding signs for monuments and landmarks throughout the Northeast.

Northeast resident Deborah Richardson said she thinks the program is an awesome idea. Richardson lives on Gladstone Boulevard and just bought the house behind her home to tear it down.

“It’s exciting they’re tearing down buildings to make the area safer for its residents,” Richardson said.

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