1701 E. 18th St. Contributed Photo

A redevelopment agreement for the historic Boone Theater in the 18th and Vine District was discussed during City Council’s Neighborhood Planning and Development committee meeting on September 22.

Plans for the Boone Theater, 1701 E. 18th St., include a co-working space and an outdoor event space on vacant land to the east. The Boone Theater opened as The New Rialto Theater in 1924. Along with the Eblon, Lincoln and Gem Theaters, it served as a vital core to the commercial and entertainment center created by the African American community in the 18th and Vine District.

Developing this historic area, which sits in the Third City Council District, provides the City with real opportunities to build economic activity for the East Side while enhancing mobility for our residents, said Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson.

Fifteen projects are in various stages of revitalization across the 18th and Vine area on a mix of private and City-owned property.

“I am proud to see continued investments in the Historic 18th and VIne District — one that I proudly lived in and represented on the City Council for years,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “I applaud Councilwoman Robinson for her hard work on these projects and look forward to this historic district’s continued growth and prosperity.”

The projects include many historic buildings, like the Paseo YMCA at 1824 The Paseo, which will become the Buck O’Neil Research Center, and the Attucks School at 1818 E. 19th St., the future home of the Zhou-B Art Center. The $20 million redevelopment plan calls for the building to be renovated into 43 artist studios and seven gallery and event spaces, including a rooftop deck with views of downtown and a welcoming new entrance.

“Elevating City investments at 18th and Vine demonstrates equity in action,” Robinson said. “It is strategically wise to remediate blight in historical neighborhoods with unparalleled tourism appeal. I look forward to partnering with the development team to restore the Boone Theater to a vibrant and enjoyable space for residents and visitors.” 

New builds are intermixed with the historic district, drawing new residents, athletes and tourists. The KC Urban Youth Baseball Academy, completed in 2018, is a state-of-the-art baseball, softball and education facility using professional baseball instruction as a vehicle to provide urban youth with educational training and career opportunities. The City provided $2 million in PIAC funds while the state provided $4 million in tax credits. 

“18th and Vine is the top redevelopment priority for our team right now,” said City Manager Brian Platt. “This district will be the foundation of building economic vitality and vibrancy across the east side of Kansas City, bringing new jobs, new activity and entertainment, more housing, and more opportunities.”

Recent City investments have sparked multiple private projects and proposals. A project at 2000 Vine St. recently broke ground on phase one, which is expected to open later this year. The overall project includes the redevelopment of the two 10,000 square foot historic buildings. The historic City Water and Public Works buildings, built in 1866, will be converted to retail and restaurant use. Plans also include the city’s first Black-owned brewery.

Shoring up the housing stock is key to the Parade Park Neighborhood’s revitalization. Generally bounded by Truman Road on the North, E. 18th on the South, Woodland on the West, and Brooklyn to the East, this project contemplates future mixed income housing that has received nearly $1.86 million in CDBG/HOME dollars and $905,000 in CCED funds for a four-phase master development plan.

On the other side of the district, One Nine Vine, a $68 million redevelopment set to begin Phase 1 & 2, would include six stories of multifamily new construction, comprising 80 market-rate and affordable units, 17,550 square feet of neighborhood retail, and 138 additional parking spaces.

Along with residential units come employees, some of whom could work from home. Live-work townhomes are proposed for 21 Flora and 21 Vine, and the Keystone Innovation District at the northeast corner of 18th and Troost would create mixed-use office and tech space.

The redevelopment of Wheatly-Provident Hospital at 1826 Forest involves an $8.4 million historic rehabilitation of the City’s first privately owned Black hospital, built in 1903. The developer has proposed an adaptive reuse of the property for commercial purposes including healthcare, health tech, life sciences, and/or research and development tenants.

The future of 18th and Vine includes City-owned property slated for redevelopment. The City has received multiple inquiries from potential developers for 2010 E. 18th Street and plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) soon. The City has already issued an RFP for 1819 and 1831 Lydia, 1801 Grove and 1800-1802 Paseo for new residential and/or commercial or mixed-use construction and is reviewing responses. An RFP has also been issued for 18th & Agnes for new residential and/or commercial or mixed-use construction and is reviewing responses for this as well.

The historic district has seen major investment in years past. In April 2021, Pathway Financial Education Center at 1520 E. 18th St. opened its doors. Pathway provides financial training and education to small business owners and individuals.

The City has invested about $2 million in streetscape improvements within the district since 2018 and is finalizing additional infrastructure improvements in the district and surrounding neighborhoods. Congressman Cleaver has requested $6 million in federal funding for a pedestrian plaza and gateway to the district, with community feedback and visioning sessions being planned now.