Editor’s note: The following story includes the second 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. Click here to watch “Part one: Visualizing the Village.”
With Troost Avenue’s intimate role in Kansas City’s past, the local community deserves to take the lead on shaping the corridor’s future, Jonathan O’Neil Cole noted.
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.
“I think the great story about this entire development is that it is people from our community who are invested and working on it. They have personal connections to the site, and that’s what makes this project so special,” said Cole, the founding principal of Pendulum Studio — the architecture firm selected for the Troost Village development.
Click here to read more about the project, which runs north-south from 31st Street to Linwood Boulevard and east-west from Forest Street to Harrison Street.
Rather than outsourcing corporate contractors, Cole and Tim Bowman — who serves as the partnership leader on the four-year project with Midtown Development Partners — have strived to engage locals by providing job opportunities to get involved, Cole shared.
“It’s meaningful that many of [our contractors] have history on the site — some visiting the site as a child, or perhaps hearing stories from their parents or grandparents about what things were like when this two block stretch of Troost was the destination years ago,” Cole said. “The fact that we are collaborating with the community to bring that energy and vibrancy back is incredibly important to me.”
The second of four videos — “The Village Behind Troost Village” — debuts below today.
The latest installment in the series introduces three of the local contractors who are on-site moving the ground and overseeing the project’s mechanical and engineering aspects. The video series is produced by the Kansas City-based, women-owned company, Stellar Image Studios (SIS).
Fahteema Parrish, the owner and president of Parrish & Sons Construction, is working on the renovation of the Michaelson building — one of four historic buildings (along with the Belmont, Firestone and Shankman) incorporated into the project. She recalled walking through that very building with her father as a young girl.
“My dad used to take me into [the Michaelson], and I’d help him find reconditioned or refurbished appliances for his clients,” Parrish shared, noting that her father owned his own HVAC company.
“Now my husband and I are able to take our four sons to the project and tell them about how their grandpa was able to serve our community from this same site,” she continued. “Just being a part of that evolution, it really feels amazing to say the least.”
Parrish also feels a sense of connection with the other small business owners on-site, she said — explaining that she previously met Elisabeth DeCoursey, the president of KC Testing and Engineering, in AltCap’s NeXt Stage KC program.
“It would have been easy for them to have called in an outside team of non-local contractors; so bringing in that local talent speaks volumes about the leadership,” Parrish said. “It is important to keep that money within the community to further develop the local economy. It also has other impacts, like providing jobs which can decrease crime and vandalism.”
About 65 percent of the contractors working on the Troost Village development are minority business enterprises (MBE) and/or women business enterprises (WBE), Bowman, the project leader, previously told Startland News.
Watch “Part two: The Village Behind Troost Village” then keep scrolling.
Bill Alexander, owner of Alexander Mechanical, has known Bowman for nearly 40 years, he said. Upon first hearing about the Troost Village development, Alexander was shocked someone was willing to so heavily invest in the area, but it all clicked when he realized Bowman was at the forefront of the project, he shared.
“We had seen a lot of renovation on the North end of Troost … but we weren’t seeing much happen South of 27th Street,” Alexander noted. “The idea that somebody would come in and develop a large amount of property in that area is definitely worth recognizing. There is so much time, money and effort that’s being put into this development.”
When it comes to developing and revitalization, a crucial conversation must be centered around gentrification, Parrish added.
“Although it is very exciting to be enhancing an area, there are still goals in place to make sure that [housing and needs] are still affordable for the individuals who live there,” Parrish said. “So the intentionality to keep things affordable, that’s the truly exciting part about this.”
Part three of the Troost Village video series is expected to feature Ruben Alonso, president of AltCap, which is set to open a new office in the Michaelson building upon completion.