Whether neighbors like it or not, a new crime lab will be going up on the east side. On Thursday, there was a big step in that process.
It's is $60 million project that officials said is desperately needed to not only enhance the police department, but also to revitalize what some say was an often-neglected neighborhood. Thursday, it moved one step closer to completion.
It has been months since a large sign was stuck in the ground in an empty lot near 27th Street and Prospect Avenue announcing the new crime lab campus. On Thursday, the city council moved forward with the project voting overwhelmingly to fund it with money generated by a 2010 public safety sales tax.
"This is a good day for the entire 3rd District. Citizens have been waiting for quite some time for a change in our community," Third District City Councilman Jermaine Reed said.
Reed said the project will also create several jobs and have a huge economic impact in the 3rd District.
The project's construction management contract was awarded to JE Dunn Construction, which partnered with minority contractor Alexander Mechanical. The minority status played a crucial role in the bidding process.
"It doesn't really make a whole lot of sense for us to build a project that's supposed to build the economic vitality of a particular area if we don't include that area in that process," said spokesman for Kansas City, MO, Danny Rotert
City leaders believe the new East Patrol Division Station and Crime Lab Campus will help turn around the Prospect and Brooklyn avenues area near 26th and 27th streets, which is a neighborhood often plagued by crime. The construction alone is expected to have a huge economic impact on nearby businesses and create jobs.
But it was not without controversy. Some neighbors spoke out against the city's plan to pay homeowners to buy their homes and then tear them down to make room for the complex.
Despite those speaking out against the project, some residents support it.
"I have some friends that had to move right around the corner here, but they took what they could get and moved out. They see the benefit too for the neighborhood," Thomas Hardy said.
"It'll clean the neighborhood up. All that's going on along 27th and Prospect should have been cleaned up a long time ago," Tyron Davis said.
A date for the groundbreaking hasn't been set, but the project is slated for completion within three years.
Click here for updates and more information on the East Campus Project.
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