On Tuesday, December 10, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) affiliate Hardesty Renaissance Economic Development Corporation (HREDC) celebrated the groundbreaking of its project in Kansas City, MO. The former Federal complex is an 18 acres site adjacent to the Kansas City Terminal Railroad, with 572,000 square feet of space in its collective six buildings. Built in 1941 as a Quartermaster’s Depot, the complex served many government purposes until 2002, when its last operator, the Federal Aviation Administration, was transferred out of the complex.
Hardesty Renaissance’s vision is to revitalize the site, creating new jobs and propelling the site’s transformation into a sustainable place for all. The redevelopment success will result in a model for large-scale, industrial-type sites that AAFE can replicate, revitalize, and transform in other cities throughout the country. After AAFE purchased the site for a half million dollars in 2011, HREDC Director Jim Turner has invested two years into developing relationships with communities, the local government, and organizations, while carefully researching potential development opportunities that could deliver the project’s vision. HREDC quickly discovered food to be a hot topic in Greater Kansas City, particularly relating to activity to increase access to local produce. In addition, HREDC recognized: a growing food policy movement; new restaurants featuring locally grown produce; City engagement in promoting food related business; urban farming growth in the neighborhood; wholesalers and retailers increasing local produce market share; an evolving multi-state food hub collaboration; and new small farmers markets adding to the metro area’s longer established ones.
The ceremony commenced with a performance by Enrique Chi of local band Making Movies. Also joining HREDC in the celebration were: Councilman Scott Wagner; Councilman Jermaine Reed; State Representative John Rizzo; former KCMO Mayor Kay Barnes; City Manager Troy Schulte; Josh Shelton, David Dowell, Rachel Duncan, and Steve Seltzer, El Dorado Architects; Shomari Benton, David Lloyd, and Peter Chung, Benton, Lloyd & Chung;Allen Bartells and Eric Gorman, Terracon;Richard Montgomery, Taliaferro & Browne;John Santner, Neighborworks America; Michael Collins, Port Authority of Kansas City; John Fierro, Mattie Rhodes Center; Bobbie Baker and Rebecca Koop, Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; Bill Dana, Central Bank; and Andrew Bracker, KC Brownfields. The Master of Ceremonies for the event was Ernesto Vigoreaux, Chief Operating Officer of AAFE and Board member of Hardesty Renaissance Economic Development Corporation. Mr. Vigoreaux is leading the development team tasked with remediation of the site.
During his remarks, AAFE Executive Director Chris Kui stated, “We believe that Hardesty can create jobs and economic opportunities for all racial and ethnic groups in the city, while at the same time meeting the needs of local neighborhoods.” He added, “Thank you for opening up your arms and embracing us. I must recognize all of you here today for your involvement and partnership during the past two years and look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure a successful project.”
“As we begin the clean-up of the first of six buildings, ‘Building 11,’ we mark the start of the remediation of the Hardesty site and this first building,” added Ernesto Vigoreaux of AAFE. “By spring 2014, we hope to finish the complete remediation of Building 11 restoring the building and creating a 3,000 SF Office / Exhibit / Meeting space that will be open to other not-for-profits and community groups wanting to host community meetings or events, homeowner association meetings, etc., while also promoting local artisans in an exhibit space, while Hardesty Renaissance develops a business plan for the project that builds on the two feasibility studies recently completed, to attract investment, promote green economic development and entrepreneurship, create jobs, and a sustainable destination that employs green technology…this is our vision, and we hope you too can join us on realizing it at Hardesty Renaissance!”