Heartland Habitat finds a new home near 18th and I-70

by Mary Rupert

Heartland Habitat for Humanity recently moved into new quarters at an office building on 18th Street north of I-70 in Kansas City, Kan.

The first day in the new office building, at 155 S. 18th St., Suite 120, was Aug. 21, said Tom Lally, executive director. The building contains professional offices. It also contains the local parole office.

The nonprofit Habitat organization, which increases the number of affordable homes for families and creates opportunities for low-income families to own their own homes, had to move from its location at the levee in the Fairfax area, as the buildings there were being torn down to make way for a redevelopment project.

“We’re a Wyandotte County organization, we do a lot of builds here. We cover and serve most of the metropolitan area. We felt it was important to maintain a Wyandotte County headquarters, so we looked diligently at all locations,” Lally said. “All had their pluses and minuses. Because of highway access, we decided on this location.”

He added that Habitat worked with the Unified Government and the levee project developer, NorthPoint.

He said that better technology at the new office will allow Habitat to hold more community meetings and training meetings.

“It’s a lot better, centrally located, and more accessible for our homeowners, and for the general public, to come in and take our common sense homeownership trainings,” he said.

Lally said there are three new home projects currently in Kansas City, Kan. Two homes in Armourdale will be finished in the next 30 days, he said. The dig for another project, on Mill Street, was just yesterday.

He said Heartland Habitat is in a conversation with the UG and a couple of private and nonprofit organizations to engage a specific Kansas City, Kan., neighborhood, bringing stakeholders and resources together there in 2015.

Besides new homes, Habitat is very active in helping to renovate old homes through “A Brush with Kindness” program and Veterans Housing Initiative, he said.

Recently, Heartland Habitat helped a World War II veteran who lives near the downtown area of Kansas City, Kan., he said.

Habitat’s vice president of construction went to look at the house, found it was overgrown with vegetation, trees, shrubs and poison ivy, he said. There were holes in the roof requiring an entire roof replacement.

A group of high school and college students who worked this summer with Heartland Habitat spent two weeks clearing brush, filling two dumpsters, he said. Then the UG came in and helped with the roof replacement.

Next, some minor repairs are planned; there were some mobility issues for the veteran.

“The gentleman was not looking for a handout; he was willing to help out,” Lally said. “We’re doing the right things for the right reason.”

Other new recent developments with Heartland Habitat include a new Habitat reStore opened in the Northland on the Missouri side of the metropolitan area. Now there are three Heartland Habitat reStores, including one in Kansas City, Kan., he said.

This year Heartland Habitat plans about eight home construction projects in Kansas City, Kan. Also, there are probably more than 40 “A Brush with Kindness” home repair projects planned here, he added.

In addition there are two more home construction projects planned for Olathe, Kan., and Liberty, Mo., as well as “A Brush with Kindness” projects.

“There’s need everywhere, as we’re finding out,” Lally said.

He added that Heartland Habitat is getting short on funds for Wyandotte County “A Brush with Kindness” projects. For the first time, there is a backlog of eligible projects, with some on hold until they get eligible funding, he said. The minor home repair projects have an average cost of about $1,500 each.

“We need funding and we need the volunteers to come out,” Lally said.

Corporations and businesses have been helpful, and funding has come in from a few plants in Kansas City, Kan., he added.

Office hours at the new Heartland Habitat location are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 913-342-3047.

Kansas Supreme Court selects KCKCC for Oct. 29 docket

Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss
Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss

The Kansas Supreme Court announced today it has selected Kansas City Kansas Community College as the next destination in its ongoing outreach to familiarize Kansans with the high court, its work, and the overall role of the Kansas judiciary.

The court will be in session from 9 a.m. to about noon Wednesday, Oct. 29, in the Performing Arts Center on the Kansas City Kansas Community College campus at 7250 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan. The court will hear oral arguments in two criminal cases and three civil cases.

Since 2011, the court has visited several communities where it convened in special session in public venues and invited the community to attend.

“Community visits are a great way for the people of Kansas to get to know us — who we are and what we do — and to learn about the judiciary’s role in our society,” said Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss. “We especially like visiting colleges and universities, because the students show great interest in learning about our state judicial system.”

Ahead of Oct. 29, Supreme Court staff will work with Kansas City Kansas Community College faculty and area high school teachers to identify classes of students who would like to attend the special session to hear oral arguments in person. Staff will share background information about the cases with the students so they will know the basic legal questions being argued before the court.

Students will make up the largest segment of the audience in the 360-seat Performing Arts Center, but there will be seats available for the public, too.

– Story from Kansas judicial branch

Public hearing to be tonight on STAR bond district for national soccer training center

A map shows the STAR bond district between 94th and I-435, from State to Parallel. Some areas east of 94th also are included. (Map from UG agenda)
A map shows the STAR bond district between 94th and I-435, from State to Parallel. Some areas east of 94th also are included. (Map from UG agenda)

A public hearing on an expanded STAR bond district and redevelopment plan is scheduled at the 7 p.m. Aug. 28 Unified Government Commission meeting.

Included in the STAR bond district, fourth project area, is a $75 million National Training and Coaching Development Center, to be the home of U.S. Soccer. Adult and youth soccer training will take place at the site. The plans for the soccer site include a training facility, a hotel, eight professional fields, eight youth fields, and specialized facilities. The completion date would be 2016.

Also included in the STAR bond district, second project area, is an automotive plaza, with space for four auto dealerships, two restaurant sites, a gas station and convenience store west of 98th Street. Two of the dealerships were formerly located in Wyandotte County, according to UG documents, under different owners.

The district, the Vacation Village STAR district, is located in the Schlitterbahn area near 98th and State Avenue. The project area is 94th to I-435, from Parallel Parkway to State Avenue. Areas east of 94th also are included. Schlitterbahn waterpark is the first project area in this STAR bond district.

A third project area includes an entertainment and retail area, with restaurants and lodging as possible tenants. This area could include an office building.

The fifth project area of the STAR bond district has a potential for different types of lodging facilities in the future, but plans are not yet set for this area, according to UG documents.

UG documents stated that the overall project budget was estimated at more than $607 million total in capital investment in the project, including money previously spent on projects in the district. It estimated $187 million for the auto plaza, restaurants and hotel project in the second project area, and $187 million for the retail-entertainment project in the third project area.

The STAR bond issue would be capped at $90 million of net proceeds, subject to marketability, according to the UG documents.

Also, about $5.4 million of the net STAR bond proceeds would be made available to the UG to reimburse the UG for the $5.4 million of temporary notes and interest that it incurred in improving 98th Street.

The development agreement calls for a $750,000 donation to charities, a foundation or nonprofit organization that the UG designates. Under the original agreement with Schlitterbahn developers, there was supposed to be a $100,000 a year donation increasing each year; however, these community donations were not made.

A two-thirds vote of the commission is required to pass the STAR bond ordinance.

Also on tonight’s UG agenda, which has mostly planning and zoning items:
– Change of zone, 240 S. 65th St., to request revision to previously approved stipulations.
– Change of zone, from agriculture, single family and planned general business, to planned general business district for auto dealership plaza at 9910 France Family Drive.
– Change of zone from limited business district to commercial district for auto repair shop at 2915 Brown Ave.
– Special use permit for temporary use of land for two classrooms at 2034 S. 51st St., Korean Presbyterian Church of Kansas.
– Renewal of special use permit for temporary modular classroom for Central Middle School, 813 Barnett Ave.
– Renewal of special use permit for temporary modular classroom for Sumner Academy, 1610 N. 8th St.
– Master plan amendment from business park to industrial at 240 S. 65th St.
– Ordinance amendment, regarding digital billboards and changes to the sign code.
– Ordinance rezoning property at 221 S. 72nd St from single family district to agriculture district.
– Ordinance rezoning property at 2708 and 2710 Merriam Lane and 3000 S. 27th St. from planned general business, single family, planned apartment and planned commercial districts to planned general business district.
– Preliminary plan review for new logistics facility for construction equipment rental, leasing and storage at 240 S. 65th St.
– Land Bank items.

To see more information, visit the UG meeting agenda site at www.wycokck.org.