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Archive for Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Rental housing opens in Kansas City jazz district

October 30, 2002

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— Thirteen years after city officials began working to revitalize the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District, rental housing has been finished, and a new restaurant is preparing to open.

Dozens of local and state officials gathered Monday to celebrate the restaurant development and completion of 73 units of rental housing at the district. In its 1930s heyday, the area was a center for black culture and commerce.

"This is the next critical step in the revitalization of an area that truly should be cherished," Gov. Bob Holden said.

Vera Willis said that her Peachtree restaurant will be open by Thanksgiving. It seats 220 and promises to be one of the most upscale black-owned restaurants in Kansas City.

Al Fleming, president of the Jazz District Redevelopment Corp., which has overseen much of the development, said the district was about one-third finished.

"The future looks a lot rosier than maybe it did when I came to Kansas City four years ago," Fleming said. "Some of our dreams are beginning to bear fruit."

He said construction should begin by December along 18th Street for the Red Vine jazz club, the Strange Frut Restaurant and Smoothie Bar, and a coffee shop.

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