FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2017
City officials and neighborhood residents are celebrating the groundbreaking for a new Sun Fresh Market that will anchor the Linwood Shopping Center, highlighting the ongoing revitalization happening in this historic east side Kansas City neighborhood.
City officials, including Mayor Sly James and Third District Councilmen Quinton Lucas and Jermaine Reed praised the project and assured the supportive crowd that there are even more good things coming to this Linwood Boulevard and Prospect Avenue site.
“Every community deserves a full-service grocery store,’’ said Reed, who has made redeveloping this area a priority since being elected to the City Council in 2011. “This is not an amenity but something that we must do to ensure access to life’s necessities. This project will serve as a catalyst for development along the Prospect and Linwood corridors.”
Mayor James commended Reed on his tireless efforts to advance this project and others that both say will stimulate the neighborhood and bring in new residents.
“This is something that has been dormant for quite some time and now it’s about to change,” Mayor James said. “It’s going to bring fresh food to the neighborhood. It’s going to bring economic activity to the neighborhood. It’s going to bring some jobs. It’s going to bring pride to this neighborhood because you’re going to have a grocery store that’s second to none”
The City closed on the property in May for $950,000, raising that money by selling bonds to investors. The estimated cost for the entire redevelopment is expected to eventually reach $17 million after calculating additional costs like the public art, fixing a nearby water main, soft costs like legal and other fees, furnishings, etc. Future property tax revenue generated by the shopping center will be reinvested to cover redevelopment costs.
Plans call for keeping intact the retail stores at the north and south ends of the property, on each side of the City-owned grocery store. Some existing retail tenants like Gen X men’s clothing store will remain, while new tenants will also be added. The developer says tenants are lined up for all retail spaces except one. The construction project’s goal is to exceed usual minority hiring requirements.
Redevelopment of the City’s east side is a steady work-in-progress that isn’t always obvious to casual observers. Nearly $2.3 billion in private and public money has been invested in projects that are either completed, underway or approved since 2011. Some of the higher profile projects are:
- Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center ($25 million)
- YMCA ($10.3 million)
- East Campus Police Station ($74 million)
- Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center ($17 million)
- 18th and Vine Improvements ($7 million)
- Aldi Grocery ($5 million)
- Northeast Community Center Improvements ($4 million)
The City also has a $10 million citywide initiative to demolish dangerous buildings, including many in this part of the town. These demolitions started last spring and have eliminated blight to help spark neighborhood revitalization.
Telester Powell, with the Key Coalition Neighborhood Association, said the groundbreaking continues the vision put forth many years ago by her late husband Bernard, a well-known Civil Rights activist who marched in Selma, Ala., with the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her message was one of unity.
“In Swahili, Harambee means pulling together,” Powell said. “Today I see our community pulling together.”
Developers on the Sun Fresh project include the Linwood Shopping Center Initiative, LLC, owned by Don Maxwell, and Linwood Boulevard Development, LLC, managed by the R.H. Johnson Company. Store managers promise to make 80-100 local hires.
Media inquiries should be directed to Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department Communications/Community Liaison John Baccala at 816-520-6646 (cell).