By Paul Thompson
December 28, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A planned multi-million expansion of faith-based non-profit Healing House took a step forward last week when the organization’s development plan was approved by the City Plan Commission.
The substance abuse recovery organization is planning a $5.2 million expansion that would move its operations from its current location on St. John Avenue to the site of a former bowling alley located just north of St. John and N. Elmwood Avenue. The plan calls for Healing House to renovate that structure and provide 4,200 square feet of assembly space, 3,800 square feet of office space and about 1,300 square feet of accessory use space for its current clientele in the Historic Northeast. Also included in the plan is a significant increase in parking that would create 42 spaces between two lots on either side of N. Elmwood.
The current Healing House facility has only nine parking spaces, which is an issue that has caused some friction with the surrounding neighborhood. Healing House Executive Director Bobbi Jo Reed, however, says that those issues have been resolved as the organization has begun using a vacant lot to park cars during busy nights.
“We’ve been using the lot already. It’s just grass, but we’re using it for parking and it’s really resolved all the issues that we’ve had,” said Reed. “We have parking attendants out there on any nights that we have more attendance than normal.”
Indian Mound Neighborhood Association President Bryan Stalder wrote a letter of support for the project that was included in the informational packet provided for Plan Commission members. Stalder stated in the letter that “Healing House Ministry has been a blessing for the Indian Mound Neighborhood,” citing the opportunity being afforded for area residents to improve their quality of life and the organization’s efforts to transform properties in the neighborhood.
Stalder also acknowledged the previous parking issues that had concerned some neighbors, though he added that the problem was in the process of being handled.
“These problems are, however, in the midst of remediation and clear steps are being taken to seriously address each and every one of these concerns,” wrote Stalder in the November 1 letter.
After the Plan Commission meeting concluded, Reed discussed her vision for the long-vacant bowling alley.
“We’ll have office space, a bigger education center with seating for 15 with computers, and then we’ll have a pastoral counseling office and a group room,” said Reed.
Reed added that the new space will have a kitchen that should greatly benefit the organization’s catering business.
“We’ll have a commercial kitchen in this place, which will really enhance our capacity,” she said. “It will be part of a jobs training program for our people, so they can get experience in food service and get their food handler’s permits.”
As currently conceived, the Healing House expansion would be split into two phases: the first is scheduled to proceed in March of 2017 and would include the renovation of the old bowling alley and the resurfacing of the two adjoining parking lots.
“Phase 1 is about $2.3 million, and we’ve already raised over $1 million,” said Reed. “We’ve got some matching grant opportunities that we might be able to pursue now, too. You have to get to 40% before you can even approach them.”
Phase 2, currently being targeted to begin in the spring of 2018, would include the renovation of the property at 4420 St. John. The $2.9 renovation will transform the property into a ground floor retail space with four family apartments located above.
“We’ll have a café and coffee shop and a big thrift store, but not a stinky thrift store,” said Reed. “We’ll have three three-bedroom apartments and one two-bedroom apartment up above.”
Reed also relayed more good news after the Plan Commission meeting, revealing that Healing House has recently been selected as the charitable recipient of a prominent local fundraising organization.
“We are the recipients of the Kansas City Young Matrons this year – their gala,” said Reed. “It’s their 100-year celebration, and they usually bring in around $150,000. God willing, that all goes well and we’ll be good to go.”
Mostly, Reed is just excited for the future.
“I feel really positive. It’s been a long time coming, and I feel really good about it,” she said. “We’re not causing trouble in our community, and we’re trying to be really good neighbors. We’re just excited about what God has in store for us.”