Reconciliation Services recently crossed the finish line of a $14.9 million capital campaign to breathe new life into its aging homebase at one of Kansas City’s most bustling intersections, said Father Justin Mathews.
“We were able to complete the $15 million raise in approximately 18 months, which is a tribute to the generosity of Kansas City,” said Mathews, executive director of the Troost-based nonprofit. “It’s essential that we get the building at 31st and Troost open again. It’s a very important node in our city, especially for the over 4,000 low income residents that we serve. That location, especially because of the bus access on the corner, is a vital community resource.”
With the help of Sunflower Development Group, Reconciliation Services secured $10.5 million in New Market Tax Credits — $8.5 million from Enterprise Bank and Trust and $2 million from Capital One — in late August. Mathews said Enterprise then purchased the tax credits as the lead investor, which netted more than $3 million for the Reveal Strength Campaign.
“New Market Tax Credits are a fantastic tool, but one that’s not as commonly used by nonprofit projects,” he explained of the credits, which are designed to provide private-capital gap financing for commercial projects that stimulate economic growth in low-income areas. “I think it’s a wonderful story of economic community development in Kansas City that Reconciliation Services was able to obtain these tax credits and then use them to further the community work that we’re doing. It’s one thing to be doing a market-rate project and to apply for tax credits. It’s another thing to be doing a truly community-oriented development and to be awarded those tax credits was a tremendous blessing.”
Click here to learn more about the project.
The project is a creative investment that will help all people who call Troost home continue to thrive and succeed, Mathews noted.
“It’s good to address the blight of the buildings on Troost Avenue,” he explained. “But unless we address the blight of the heart that created the conditions for poverty and trauma on Troost, we’re not changing anything. So while we’re very excited to participate in the economic investment that’s happening on Troost, we’re more excited that this is being done for and with our neighbors who need it the most. Our dream is that all ships would rise together.”
The nonprofit is currently operating out of its temporary home at 1006 East Linwood Boulevard and Thelma’s Box Lunch program is using kitchen space at the Central Presbyterian Church.
As for the status of the renovation of the building — which the organization has operated in since 1987 and Mathews previously said was held together with duct tape, plaster, and prayer — demolition work within the structure is complete and the build back has started, Mathews said. A grand opening is expected by the end of 2023.
“God willing,” he added. “It’s a big project. We’re adding a fifth floor that historically was a part of the building. And we’re renovating every floor in the building from stem to stern. Everything is getting upgraded. And we’ve lowered the floor of the basement to enable us to have another 3,000 square feet of usable space.”
Click here to view a full slideshow of plans for the renovated building.
The project will allow Reconciliation Services to double its social service and therapy program spaces, expand and relaunch Thelma’s Kitchen and continue to grow the Box Lunch program — which Mathews said will be a tremendous job creator — plus add other social enterprises they have in the works.
“People have talked about these kinds of projects as being like urban acupressure,” he explained. “It’s a particular node in the body of the city. And when you make an investment on this corner, you can have a healing impact on the whole of the community. So we’re very excited to get the building open. … “For us, what we’re seeking to do is to not just work within a broken system, but to create a new system where we can address generational poverty and trauma with sustainable solutions.”
Sunflower Development Group is honored and fortunate to be involved with such revitalization along the Troost corridor, said Chris Vukas, director of New Market Tax Credits/Special Projects for the group.
“It has been an amazing experience to be part of such a dedicated team that worked tirelessly to not only provide continual mental health and other social services through a pandemic, but also raise millions of dollars through its capital campaign in the process,” he said.
Also helping Reconciliation Services cross the fundraising finish line: the Sunderland Foundation — with a $4 million donation; the Hall Family Foundation; the Mabee Foundation; the Kao Family Foundation; the Wiley Foundation; the Francis Family Foundation; the Kirk Family Foundation; the H&R Block Foundation; Evergy; plus many more individual and foundation supporters, noted Mathews.