The 12 Blocks West non-profit partnership has been approved for more federal funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to continue its rehabilitation of properties on Overton Street in the northwest portion of Independence.
An ordinance approve at Monday’s City Council meeting increased the contract in the existing agreement with 12 Blocks West by $259,000. The city will acquire 707, 711 and 715 S. Overton – all vacant single-family homes – for 12 Blocks West to redeveloped.
The middle property, 711 S. Overton, will be renovated, while the other two will have new homes constructed.
Overton Street is in the 1st District of Council Member Marcie Gragg, but she abstained from voting (the ordinance otherwise passed unanimously) because she is the vice-chairman of 12 Blocks West.
“We use the federal funds to save the neighborhood from blight that occurs due to foreclosures,” Gragg said. “What we’ve been able to do is take some of the worst houses ... and the partnership rehabs them for single-family ownership.”
Monday’s ordinance amended an agreement for that redevelopment area originally made in 2010. Since then, the project has resulted in demolition of a 12-unit apartment building at 710 S. Overton that was deemed dangerous, with two new single-family homes constructed and sold on that space. In addition, two foreclosed and uninhabitable apartment buildings nearby off East U.S. 24 were renovated for low-income households.
“I’m really thrilled with the way this has progressed over the years,” Gragg said. Profits have been realized as these houses have been sold, and those get re-invested.”
The amended contract amount for the total 12 Blocks West project at Overton is not to exceed $600,000.
Also Monday, the Council passed an ordinance under the chapter of the City Code, “Business and Occupation Licenses,” to add new a article for secondary metal recyclers. The ordinance is designed to combat the rash of stolen recyclable materials in the region – most notably the Pioneer Woman statue from the National Frontier Trails Museum last year – by aiding law enforcement’s ability to identify thieves, especially repeat offenders.
“These guys are causing thousands and thousands of dollars in damage for little return,” Police Chief Tom Dailey said. “We’re trying to slow the demand. If there’s no place to sell, the demand goes down.”
Council Member Curt Dougherty suggested that future consideration be given to requiring payouts from secondary recyclers to be mostly or completely done by check rather than cash. The new City Code article calls for payment by check if the amount is $500 or more, and Dougherty said it takes a rather large truck full of metal to get a $500 return.
The Council agenda item notes that the state of Missouri, Kansas City and other cities in the area have enacted similar laws, and that primary recyclers, who also stand to be affected by the ordinance, support the change.