Jason Nickles is interning this summer with the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to gain experience in his field of urban planning and design.

After making a career switch, Nickles, a 2016 graduate of the University of Missouri, is now pursuing a second degree from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

“I was working in a bio-technical lab, because I just wanted a job,” Nickles said. “I had an internship in the middle of nowhere and I realized I don’t want to work in the middle of nowhere. Life happened and five years later, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this.’”

Nickles, a resident of Pendleton Heights since 2017, chose his neighborhood because of its proximity to Kessler Park, and his family’s roots here.

“I had one dog at the time, and I didn’t think I could afford the neighborhood at all,” Nickles said. “I got priced out of Midtown, obviously, even back then I was priced out… So then I found this one on Urbancoolkc.com, and it was on the market for a day. I looked at it the next day and put an offer on it.”

He’s made basic repairs to his house since he moved in – fixing a hole in the roof and updating the bathroom – but doesn’t plan on changing the floor plan. A self-described maximalist, he likes the walls and separate rooms in his old home.

“I’m really able to walk to work, which has been like a dream,” Nickles said. “I was commuting to Johnson County for five years for a job and it’s so nice to be able to just walk to work, I guess.”

His grandmother attended Holy Cross and lived in Sheffield, and often shared stories of Budd Park. Now, walking to work the same way she probably did, he feels connected to his family who once lived in Northeast.

“She never got a driver’s license, never needed it,” Nickles said. “I don’t know how she continued on without it, but she never needed it when she was a teenager so it’s crazy how times have changed.”

A fan of the Northeast’s diverse food scene, his favorites are Yasmeen Cafe at Independence and The Paseo and Vietnamese food in Columbus Park. 

“Luckily, my partner’s mom lives at St. John and Kensington, and she’s from Mexico, so we get really good homemade Mexican food,” Nickles said.

As he works toward his chosen career, Nickles is gaining an appreciation for urban planners in his own neighborhood. This summer he’s working with Lonnie Clark and Mike Spady at the CID and hoping to be involved as a neighbor as the Hoxie Collective begins work on the Kessler Park Master Plan.

“I feel really lucky,” Nickles said. “Doing something that I care about, and being so close and working in the neighborhood that I care about.”

If you see Jason out and about, be sure to introduce yourself!