by Murrel Bland
How warring factions of Kansas City mob families destroyed a popular venue with the hip crowd was the subject that a former Kansas City, Missouri, police officer told at a meeting Sept. 10 of the Fairfax Industrial Association.
Gary Jenkins, the policeman, spent 13 years as an undercover officer gathering information about the Mafia. He told the history of the River Quay (pronounced key). Marion Trozzolo, a former college instructor from Chicago who owned a plastics company, developed the River Quay in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a great place to bring the family. There were various artisan and boutique shops. Trozzolo patterned the area after the Old Town area of Chicago.
Jenkins said the mob operated bars on Twelfth Street, but were being pushed out to make way for a hotel which is now the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. The mob wanted to move into River Quay.
Trozzolo had difficulty in obtaining capital and sold his interest of some 20 parcels of real estate to a New Orleans developer, Joseph Canizaro. An article in The New York Times referred Trozzolo‘s dream as Canizaro’s nightmare. Jenkins said what happened in the next few years was a violent gangland war.
Jenkins said one faction of the mob wanted strip joints and prostitution in River Quay. However, another faction, led by Fred Bonadonna, owner of Poor Freddie’s restaurant, opposed that type of business. Bonadonna’s father was murdered in gangland style. Jenkins said there were several other criminal incidents including execution-style homicides and bombings.
Today River Quay is now known as River Market. It is a mix of offices, restaurants and apartments and shops. The strip joints are gone. It is perceived as a place that is safe for families.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.