Party time at Union Hill


Mayor Sly James, who lives in Union Hill, was among those on Friday who celebrated finishing the area’s redevelopment.

Bob Frye, the developer who has worked there since 1982, was on hand, too.

He apologized to the mayor for the disruption that will be caused by building houses in front of his house.

But those are among 13 homes that along with 180 new apartments will at last finish redevelopment of the 16-block area.

That was why there were speeches and champagne  Friday outside the new Taylor apartment building at 230 E. 30th St.

James said he moved from Hyde Park to Union Hill about two years ago and called it a special place in the heart of the city.

He also said people should feel fortunate to live in the city. Even after the Republicans recently eliminated Kansas City city as a potential site for their convention, he said, the leader of site selection called him and told him Kansas City was the emotional favorite of the entire team.

John Laney, a former city development director and former assistant city manager, told how city officials and others worked with Fry when he was a young developer taking on rebirth of a blighted neighborhood that dated to 1857.

In those days, Frye drove an old and small Honda with many, many miles on it, Laney said. “He mortgaged everything he owned and everything he ever will own to make this project work.”

Maybe that helped give Frye the sharp focus to keep moving forward, Laney said.

And he raised a glass of champagne and made a toast: “Cheers to the fact that there are more residents downtown – Bob Frye is part of getting them here.”

Laney also said there will be more redevelopments like Union Hill, and he expects Frye to be involved.


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