“Social blight” fight put on hold

bainbridgeBy Joe Lambe

The City Plan Commission today granted a 30-day delay on considering the city’s first attempt to fight crime with a “social blight” designation.

Three Armour Boulevard buildings redeveloped as low income housing have increased crime so badly that the corridor is socially blighted, a study contends.

The largest of those, the Bainbridge Apartments, 900 E. Armour, has long prompted crime complaints from neighbors.

Others say the crime is hurting efforts to extend east of Troost the extensive market rate redevelopment of historic buildings on Armour Boulevard.

City officials say they want the blight designation to force action from Eagle Point Companies of Maine, which redeveloped and manages the Bainbridge (162 units), the Georgian Court (90 units) and the Linda Vista ( 51 units)

Laura E. Burns, CEO of Eagle Point, asked for a 60-day delay to counter study findings by blight expert Pat Sterrett.

The study uses statistical analysis of police records to document crime, which it states “made a tremendous jump beginning in 2008,” when the Bainbridge renovation was completed.

Burns said the company spends $108,000 a year on security for the three buildings and routinely works with Kansas City police.

Al Figuly, director of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, said the blight study was commissioned after a series of meetings with city staff and community groups last year. He argued against Eagle Point’s request for a 60-day delay.

Many neighborhood leaders attended the meeting and some also spoke against the delay.

Charles Morgan, president of Hyde Park, said “The truth is crime has been following the Bainbridge forever; we did meetings and meetings and meetings.”

Peter Hughes of Center City said, “Time is of the essence – there are young children in that building.”

Plan Commissioner Margaret May, executive director of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council, recused herself because her neighborhood had been involved in talks about the problem.

Before that, she said the city should have learned not to provide for such large concentrations of Section 8 housing after cities had to blow up public housing in the past.

David Woods, an attorney for Eagle Point, told commissioners, “I don’t want you to get the impression we feel there is nothing wrong;…we kind of feel we we’ve been blindsided by the study.”

The commissioners said they will hear the matter on Feb. 4.


  1. Michael Grimaldi says:

    Hey, Joe:

    What is the impact if this “social blight” designation goes through? Does it put restrictions on, or create new obligations, for property owners, managers or residents? Is there some requirement by the city (police, or other departments) to take some additional, different or special actions?

    Just trying to understand what the designation means.


  2. Brent says:

    The reason they feel “blindsided” by the study is that they’ve been ignoring the problem and efforts by the neighborhood and authorities to try to work with them for years. Their unwillingness/inability to address the issue on their own is what led to the formal study — which shouldn’t have been needed. Any look at the police blotter and crime heat maps would have shown there was a problem.

  3. Annie says:

    Here is a link to a petition representing those Hyde Park Neighbors that have not had a voice and have not been made aware of the HPNA and City’s actions to forcibly relocate the residents of the Bainbridge until very recently. We recognize that there are safety issues and perceptions about the Armour Corridor, however, decisions are being made for the residents without their knowledge, consent, or even feedback on how to address the perceived safety issues.

    Please take a look


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