Editor’s note: The following story includes the first video in a four-part series taking a look under the hard hats at the Troost Village development, a $162 million project on Troost Avenue, the city’s longtime racial dividing line. Videos in this series are expected to debut on Startland News as the project unfolds.
The finished product is never the first draft, especially when it comes to design and development, said Jonanthan O’Neil Cole.
“There could be 10 different versions within an idea, but a majority of people don’t get to see that process. We receive constructive criticism, make edits and go from there. I think there’s a lot of people out there who think they know what the [Troost Village development] project is about, but they don’t necessarily know,” explained Cole, who is the founding principal of Pendulum Studio — the architecture firm selected for the Troost Village development.
To share their vision for the Troost Village with the community, Cole and Tim Bowman — partnership leader on the four-year project with Midtown Development Partners — hoped to bring the redevelopment to life through a video series released via Startland News.
The first of four videos debuts below today.
“When you see people in their element — visually — it immediately gets you there; immediately you can tell if somebody is real and authentic or if it’s fake and they’re acting,” Cole said. “From these digital shorts, I wanted people to see that we are real people, and you can put faces to our names.”
Click here to read more about how the duo is bringing a New York Harlem aesthetic to this east side project. The development is expected to include residential, retail and office spaces, as well as an amphitheater.
Responding to community concerns — namely those related to redeveloping a site within a historically Black neighborhood — Cole sees it as his responsibility to respond to individuals in a constructive way, he shared.
“There have been a lot of questions and some criticism of this project as gentrification,” Cole noted. “Maybe I’m too close to it, but I don’t see it in that sense, because we’re not displacing anyone. This property has been empty for the past 40 years, so we’re not moving people out of the neighborhood.
“… Hopefully these videos will answer some of those questions and create a dialogue that I think will build for a better project in the end,” he continued. “I want the community to really embrace it and feel like they were a part of it.”
Watch “Part one: Visualizing the Village” then keep scrolling.
What is Troost Village?
The $162 million project includes the renovation of four historic buildings (the Belmont, Firestone, Michaelson and Shankman), along with two buildings that are not on the historic register (the Tycor and Harkness).
Boundaries for Troost Village run north-south from 31st Street to Linwood Boulevard and east-west from Forest Street to Harrison Street — crossing Troost. The development area touches such Troost destinations as Thelma’s Kitchen and the in-the-works Laugh-O-gram Studios rehab project, and sits just south of Operation Breakthrough at 31st and Troost.
The four-part video series was produced by the Kansas City-based, women-owned company, Stellar Image Studios (SIS). The first video, “Part one: Visualizing the Village,” explores how Bowman and Cole began building a connection with one another and to the Troost Village site.
“It’s refreshing to see a developer like Tim and an architect like Jonathan recruit and source local talent and local contractors for this project,” said Jasmine Baulder, the co-founder of SIS.
“When you’re on the [Troost Village] job site, you can really feel how everyone’s coming together to make this project happen,” Jasmine’s sister and co-founder, Amber Baudler, added.
The SIS team took images of Troost from the past, along with future renderings of Troost Village, to show how the project aims to acknowledge the area’s history, they shared.
“One piece of this series is to show and highlight the rich history that lies on Troost,” Amber Baudler said. “That’s why they don’t want those abandoned buildings to sit there; they want to bring it to life again. That’s a huge piece that excited us to tell this story.”
The intent behind the Troost Village video series is to give community members a behind-the-scenes look at the project, invite them to share their thoughts and get them on board with the effort, Cole said.
“We wanted to create a video series that would expose the process, expose the details and show the people behind it all,” he shared. “A lot of times, all you ever hear about is the developer; but there’s all these other really interesting people who have these great stories and ties to the community.”
“Part two: The Village Behind Troost Village” is set to debut later this summer on Startland News’ website. It features some of the local, small business owners who were hired to collaborate on the Troost Village development project, including: Bill Alexander, owners of Alexander Mechanical; Elisabeth DeCoursey, president of KC Testing and Engineering; and Fahteema Parrish, owner and president of Parrish & Sons Construction.
About 65 percent of the contractors who are under contract for the development are minority business enterprises (MBE) and/or women business enterprises (WBE), Bowman previously told Startland News.