18th and Vine District business owner hopes lawsuit will spur city to renovate blighted properties

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One Kansas City, Missouri, business owner hopes that a recently filed lawsuit will spur the city to renovate damaged properties in the Jazz District.

“My goal is to get them to fix up their own blighted properties or sell them to someone who will,” said Henry Service, who filed suit in early July, “and to compensate the people who they’ve been hurting for decades down here.”

Service owns the Lincoln Building in the heart of the Jazz District at 1601 East 18th Street.

The lawyer and business owner said he feels investments into the 18th and Vine District are less than other entertainment districts in the city. Service also said he’s feeling a financial impact over the condition of the area.

“I can’t make any money,” he said. “My property values have been down. I’ve had to rent under market because people want to live in nice, shiny areas.”

A city spokesperson said in a statement that while city staff can’t comment on active litigation, “it’s clear that the city values the 18th and Vine District and has invested in many improvements, while working to bring in additional developers and saving the historic facades in the district.”

“Multiple projects, in various stages, are planned for the 18th and Vine District,” the statement read, “including development of city-owned property, private property and nonprofit investment. More information will be available soon, highlighting various agreements in the works for future development projects.”

Some improvements and redevelopments have already occurred in the district, according to the city spokesperson, citing The Kansas City Urban Youth Academy and a new parking at Lydia Avenue and 18th Street.:

Still, Service said city officials have talked about developments, but “haven’t done it.”

“I’m hoping that’s true,” Service said of the city’s statement. “But I’m admittedly skeptical because they’ve been saying it for decades and they didn’t do it. So if they’re going to do it, then they should just do it.”

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