FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 2, 2017
The fire that scorched three historic buildings Thursday in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District will not slow the City’s plan to redevelop the area and enhance the district’s status as a prime destination for entertainment and tourism.
A quick response by Kansas City firefighters kept the damage confined to the Security Loan and Investment Association Building, the Roberts Building and the Eblon Theater. Fire crews extinguished the blaze and the exterior walls were then secured without having to block the sidewalks.
There are no plans to demolish the surviving facades as a result of the fire, which is important to the redevelopment plan.
“The good news today is that history runs deep in the 18th & Vine Historic District, and despite this fire, we are laser-focused on the unique opportunity we have before us: the continued development of this historic place for the benefit of Kansas City and its national and international visitors,” Third District Councilman Jermaine Reed said.
The two-story Security Loan and Investment Association Building opened in the 1920s and served as a building and loan for black residents. The Roberts Building was featured in director Robert Altman’s “Kansas City,” which was filmed in the 18th and Vine District. The Eblon Theater was built in 1922 and opened in 1923 as a venue for vaudeville and motion pictures.
A woman inside one of the buildings was taken to the hospital for observation but no one else was injured.
“While the flames were dramatic, the fire damage could have been worse,” City Manager Troy Schulte said. “The redevelopment plans will move forward on schedule. We also want to thank firefighters for their great work this morning, and other city staff for their follow up throughout the day.”
All First Friday activities will proceed as scheduled.
In July, the City Council unanimously approved the 18th and Vine Historic District redevelopment plan. The amended ordinance approved spending $7 million to fund the first phase of a multi-year redevelopment project for the district.
The City is seeking redevelopment proposals for that block, which is between 18th & 19th, from Vine to The Paseo.
Developers wishing to bid on the redevelopment should submit proposals by Feb. 10.
Media inquiries should be directed to City Communications Director Chris Hernandez, 816-513-3474.