One thing that really struck me is the number of old, formerly city-owned buildings, that have been left abandoned.
Old Schools. Old Libraries. Just left, empty.
What is really unfortunate about a lot of these buildings is that because of the sheer size of the buildings, they basically leave nearly entire city blocks -- often in emerging neighborhoods -- just abandoned.
The first two buildings pictured here, the old Switzer School and a former Public Library, take up nearly two full blocks in the city's re-emerging West Side - that has just created dead space on the West Side.
Several other old school buildings also litter other areas.
I confess, I don't know how many of these old building are still owned by the city and the school district -- but I'm assuming a fair number. It is pretty embarrassing when one of KCMO's biggest problems is the inabililty to enforce codes violations -- and yet, the city is a part of the problem.
My recommendation? Sell each of the buildings for $1000....with a contingency. The contingency is that whoever buys the building has to have it remodeled and open within 3 years -- with substantial movement made in the remodeling within the first 18 months. If these conditions weren't met, the sale would be void.
I think that many of these buildings could be used for apartments, lofts, office space, charter schools, neighborhood run community centers -- many options. In fact, a similar, but smaller, building 2 blocks north of the Library on Summit on the west side remodeled and put in lofts that are selling for between $250-$500,000.
Sure, the city would lose money on the buildings -- but they would gain tremendously in property taxes on the back end. With the buildings functioning as buildings, businesses, residences, office spaces, whatever, the property value of all surrounding properties would go up because they wouldn't be next to blighted buildings. The property itself would increase in value and bring in tax revenue also.
And in the short term, you would be creating some construction jobs for a struggling construction/remodeling market that would also gain tax money through the E-tax.
Ending the full city blocks of dead space would benefit everyone in the city -- and would be worth the loss on the buildings to end the blight in these neighborhoods.
As the city looks to deal with their budget crunch, they need to look at areas where they can increase revenue and their tax base, not just places where they can cut costs. This would be one area where they could increase the tax base -- with something they already own and are doing nothing with.