March Meeting Recap & Info About the 7540 Washington Apartments Project

Waldo Tower Homes Association Neighborhood Meeting

March 14, 2015, 10:00 a.m.

Karol O’Brian, WTHA Vice President

WTHA board members introduced themselves. There was a reminder about the recent merger with Waldo Homes Association, extending the boundaries of WTHA to include a significant portion of Waldo east of Wornall.

ReStart Transitional Housing Project, Diane Botwin, 7540 Washington Street

Diane Botwin, owner of Botwin Commercial Development, has been a long-time property owner in Waldo. Botwin Commerical Development owns and operates a number of well-known commercial buildings in Waldo, including the Westmoreland Building at 7445 Broadway (Kokoro restaurant), The Botwin Building (Summit Grill and Bar, formerly Kennedy’s), 75 Waldo (Pickleman’s Deli), and the building that houses 75th Street Brewery. Ms. Botwin has been a volunteer for ReStart for more than 30 years. When she learned that HUD had set aside funds for permanent supportive housing, she worked with ReStart to begin this project.

The project is a 14-unit apartment building with 1 bedroom for an in-house program manager and a community room. This property is meant to provide permanent housing for teens aging out of the foster care system. More than 800 young adults aged out of foster care in Jackson County last year alone. The projection is that 20 percent of them will become homeless. Research Medical Center, Rediscover, and Truman Medical Center have partnered to do research and focus groups about the kind of permanent housing that was needed in the area. El Dorado architects and A.L. Huber Construction worked on the garden-style apartment design. There is an open, secured, interior courtyard. The project was awarded a 2.2 million dollar grant for the project, which was the only award of its type in the state of Missouri.

The project was chosen to be in Waldo because Ms. Botwin owned a property that was the right size for the project. Waldo is situated with good access to transportation, a library, a grocery store, and everything that a young person would need to get started. As an urban mixed-used community, Waldo has all the amenities needs in close proximity to the property. Ms. Botwin hopes that the Waldo community will embrace these young people.

This project started as an idea in 2009, but took until 2014 to start construction. Residents will be screened and selected through the Rediscover project and Kim Wilson Housing as the property manager. All of the residents will be seeking work, employed, or going to school. The 18-25 year old residents will likely reside in the property for three to five years. Construction is expected to be complete August 2015, and occupancy complete by September 2015. ReStart Housing Services is the board that will oversee the property.

Questions from the room:

What can be done to address the potential concern for increased crime? Jean with Rediscover noted that they have operated supportive housing for ten years with very few issues. The on-site project managers are able to address issues and ensure that the residents are engaged in work and school activities. One of the units is for a permanent live-in staff member. A staff member will be onsite 24 hours a day. The courtyard allows the residents to spend their outdoor time in a controlled environment.

Do the residents have any income? How do they pay rent? Due to the HUD restrictions, residents will pay no more than 30% of their income from their job or from their college Pell grants.

Have there been discussions with Waldo businesses so the residents could work close to the property?  Ms. Botwin has worked with three different business owners who are interested in providing services or employment to the residents, including free haircuts for job interviews and perhaps even a free bicycle. There are plans for a job fair for the residents.

A resident within a block of the property supported the need for the property, but raised concerns that he was not aware of the development until a sign went up?  What are future communication plans for the property? Until the property received funding from HUD, it was not clear that the project would be moving forward until November 2014. In respect for the privacy of the residents, the programs waited until the project was moving forward. Ms. Botwin apologized for any confusion that may have been caused. A web landing page is being set up for the property to contact the property owner and management firm. The onsite resident manager will have a phone number posted in case there are questions or anyone wants to be involved with the project.

Will this building meet any LEED standards or have green design elements? No, due to the HUD regulations, it will meet the energy regulations but budget restrictions are very strict and don’t allow for the design features needed for LEED certification.

How do the residents move on from the property? What are the milestones for them? As long as residents abide by the rules and regulations of the lease, the lease may be renewed annually in perpetuity. There are no age limits. The owners anticipate residents will stay three to five years due to the size of the unit. The units are not large enough to accommodate families. Due to the high need, it will be highly competitive to be selected for each unit. They expect at least four applications per unit.

What conditions would results in a resident to be dismissed from the property? Each resident signs a lease with program guidelines. The facility will be tobacco and alcohol-free. Each young adult has a case manager.

Is there a plan for a mentorship program? The new website will include information about establishing a mentorship program.

Who is the ongoing property manager? Kim Wilson Housing will be overseeing the property. They are experienced with permanent supportive housing. Diane Botwin will remain the community liaison for the project.

An experienced foster parent commended the project and the experience of strong nonprofits involved in the project.

Will the residents be guaranteed employment? Transportation will allow for access to many jobs, and many residents will be completing school work.

Will the parking be on-street? There is off-street parking, though many residents are unlikely to have a car.

Will there be an open house? Yes

Is the onsite manager a counselor? Yes, the role is a combination property manager and program supervisor.

State Representative Jeremy LaFaver and City Councilman John Sharp spoke briefly in support of the project and to hear the community’s feedback. Councilman Sharp noted that this project did not require rezoning, so there were no public hearings required by the City.

Where does the funding come from to maintain the project? HUD supports the costs of management and maintenance.

Is there a recreational facility? The community room could have yoga classes, but there is not a gym.

Are units inspected? Yes, that is the role of the project manager.

The project is two stories high. The neighbor expressed concern about the safety of the intersection of 76th and Washington, which is currently a two-way stop. The resident encouraged it becoming a 4-way stop due to visibility? The project team will follow up with the City.

Are any of the units handicapped accessible? Yes

Are there concerns about federal funding cuts? This funding will go on 40 years

Any concerns about loitering? The lease will allow for visitors, but they must sign-in and are not allowed to stay. The live-in manger will see what is going on. There will also be electronic security, including cameras and key-fob access.

7540WashingtonApartmentsFactSheet (click to view)

City Council Elections

Ms. O’Brian provided a recap of the 6th District City Council candidate forum co-hosted by the South Kansas City Alliance and Waldo Tower Homes Association March 9. The primary election is April 7. Incumbent Scott Taylor is running unopposed for the 6th District at-large seat. The in-district council member for the 6th District has three candidates: Terrence P. Nash, Henry Klein, and Kevin McManus. The current 6th District Councilman, John Sharp, has reach his term limit.

Waldo Tower Restoration

Ms. O’Brian and the attendees reflected on the progress toward the restoration of the Waldo Tower in Tower Park. The structure is now sound, the antennas removed, and a fresh coat of paint was added. PIAC funded the project again. So far, the Waldo Tower Historic Society has raised $17,000 in private funds for the project. By June, it is expected that construction on Phase II will begin.

The planned lighting would be up-lighting, perhaps with seasonal changes. There were questions regarding the current construction to the water department building.

Other comments and questions

Marty Hatten recognized Councilman Sharp for his eight years of service on the council. He’s has reached his term limit.

A resident suggested that the Association pro-actively establish a committee to work with Rediscovery to serve as mentors.

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