KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A potential low-income housing development along Barry Road has some Kansas City residents concerned. They turned out in numbers to no avail at a Northland planning meeting Tuesday evening.
The City of Kansas City’s Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) met Tuesday, July 11 at Northland Cathedral. The committee serves to solicit citizen input on capital improvement opportunities within city limits.
PIAC handles municipal infrastructure, but close to 50 Barry Road area residents turned out to discuss something that wasn’t at all on the committee agenda — a possible Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing project.
PIAC staff collected names and contact information of those who showed up to learn about the housing development, sending those residents home with no new information but plenty of questions.
Proposed by Brinshore Development, the HUD project would be part of Kansas City’s $90 million Paseo Gateway Initiative and consist of 75 to 90 apartments at the southwest corner of Barry Road and Platte Purchase Drive.
The Paseo Gateway Initiative came out of a $30 million federal redevelopment grant awarded to the Kansas City Housing Authority in 2015. It promises to move about 500 people out of aging public housing located along The Paseo and Independence Avenue, including the Chouteau Courts housing project, Pendleton Heights, Independence Plaza and Paseo West.
Brinshore hosted a community focus group meeting Wednesday, July 5 at Highlands Community of Christ Church with high attendance. Since, the topic has blown up on social media, with much Facebook discussion and community mobilization against the idea.
Brinshore officials and architects, along with City of Kansas City and HUD officials, presented an apartment plan consisting of mostly market-value apartments with 25 to 30 of the units reserved for low-income renters. The plan also included community enhancements, parks, public improvements and added amenities.
Kansas City second district councilman Dan Fowler said he opposes the proposal, and that with the swift community outcry believes city officials may soon decide to look elsewhere.
“You just can’t put this kind of multi-family housing next to these $300,000 to $400,000 homes,” Fowler said.
Much of the property near Barry Road is already zoned for commercial use, he said, and changing the character of the area is an unpopular concept for long-time residents.
Nearby Barry Heights neighborhood resident Brenda Besselsen said she and other neighbors were already facing change in their area and had come to the meeting hoping to have a say — this time. Construction is now under way on the North Kansas City Health Retreat, located on the north side of Barry Road near Platte Purchase. The six-acre parcel will be a health and rehabilitation center and was approved by the Kansas City Council in February of this year.
“We came to a meeting about that and found out it was already approved,” Besselsen said. “We didn’t want the same thing to happen with this.”
Construction of the rehab center has already caused increased traffic, noise, runoff and other concerns for adjacent property owners, Besselsen said.
Barry Heights, located just north of Barry Road, would be one of the existing neighborhoods impacted by the potential low-income housing development. Other nearby neighborhoods include The Meadows and Line Creek Meadows, Barry Harbor and Hunter’s Ridge and Carrington Park.
Besselsen and her neighbors are a tight-knit group that look out for one another, she said, with many having lived in the area for decades.
“It’s like a little piece of heaven is still being protected right here,” Besselsen said. “It’s a wonderful neighborhood.”
Disruption of existing neighborhoods and frustration with government in general seems to dominate discussion on social media, with public Facebook posts calling the Northland “the next Grandview,” and citing fears about increased crime.
A petition against the development has been started at ipetitions.com, with nearly 1,600 signatures collected as of press time.
“This area and surrounding neighborhoods is not a suitable place for this development given the current fire, police, school district and infrastructure needs of the area,” the petition states.
A similar petition effort was launched about a year ago in Clay County, when a low-income development, dubbed Maple Corners, was proposed at the intersection of NE 48th Street and Randolph Road, near Winnetonka High School. Maple Corners was pulled from the planning docket last fall, but still remains on the table.
Brinshore Development had planned a followup meeting on its proposal on Tuesday, July 18, but that meeting has been postponed, according to a statement released by the developers, to allow staff to address community concerns.