In 2010, the Housing Authority of Kansas City, Missouri (HAKC) formed a partnership with the City and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), among others, to plan a neighborhood transformation that redevelops the Chouteau Courts family public housing site and the surrounding neighborhoods. Located just east of Downtown and isolated from the prosperity of Downtown by deep-cut highways and high concentrations of poverty, the Paseo Gateway neighborhood is supported by three very active neighborhood associations and a business association that HAKC engaged with their partners to redevelop the 134-unit distressed housing site and surrounding deteriorated housing and underutilized land.
The 134-unit Chouteau Courts is one of HAKC’s oldest sites and among HAKC’s 18 developments. With a total public housing waiting list of 6,500, occupancy at Chouteau Courts remained high, but it had the highest annual turnover rate at 51% vs. an agency-wide rate of 25%. High turnover, and buildings and systems beyond their useful life, resulted in the most costly site for HAKC to operate and maintain, with annual operating losses averaging $170,000 from 2008-2009, and capital funds tapped annually for repairs.
With the assets of Downtown to the west and the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) to the east, the neighborhood is poised for revitalization, but lacked a comprehensive plan that leverages local, State and Federal resources. Over the past decade KCU has expanded both its campus and its mission in the community, operating public health care programs which engage their students with the community. The three neighborhood associations are important assets for the plan, as they are the partners for input and action. Partnering with social service organizations and the City Police Department, these stakeholders are creating strategies to reduce crime, promote business development and employment, and obtain public improvements.
Another major transformative asset is the recently completed Christopher Bond Bridge over the Missouri River. The bridge project included redesigned access to Paseo Boulevard. A redesign of the intersection of Paseo and Independence will reduce traffic complexity and improve pedestrian and bike safety. The removal of the two motels at the intersection have already resulted in reduced crime and improved neighborhood aesthetics. HAKC and its partners are building on this asset with transportation and public improvements planning throughout the area with a focus on the two major boulevards – Independence and Paseo.
Plans include mixed-income replacement public housing on multiple sites, with pedestrian and bike friendly city blocks, and better access to schools, employment and services. The Plan uses the grant to fund the necessary community participation, conceptual development, and feasibility analysis to create a plan that is both visionary and achievable.