The 45,000 square foot Boone Theater opened as The New Rialto Theater in 1924. Along with the Eblon, Lincoln and Gem Theaters, it served as a vital core to the commercial and entertainment center created by the Black community in the Historic Jazz District.

After a number of years of slowed growth, the 18th and Vine District seems poised to underground a burst of revitalization and redevelopment.  It’s the kind of improvement some of the city’s major players feel is a key to spurring economic activity on the City’s east side.   

“Elevating city investments at 18th and Vine demonstrates equity in action,” said Councilwoman Melissa Robinson. “It is strategically wise to remediate blight in historical neighborhoods with unparalleled tourism appeal.”

Robinson has a special interest in the renovation since the Jazz District is located in the 3rd District, which she represents.  One of the upcoming projects she is looking forward to is restoring the Boone Theater to a “vibrant and enjoyable space for residents and visitors.”

Last year, the Vine Street Collaborative was chosen through a city request-for-proposals to rehabilitate the historic theater at 1701 E. 18th St. into a mixed-use event space. The terms of the project have been negotiated and the City Council approved the development agreement on Oct. 1. 

In addition to an indoor and outdoor movie theater, the $7 million project will include a co-working space, outdoor event space, outdoor food truck space, a digital media lab, Black movie hall-of-fame, and mini-YouTube studio.  

Under the terms of the development agreement, the city sold the Boone Theater property to Vine Street Collaborative for $200,000. The city will support the project with a 25-year property tax abatement of up to 10 years at 100% and then 15 years at 50%.

“We think this is something that will help curtail a lot of the problems that are taking place in the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District because there’s not a central hub where people can be productive and create,” Fox 4 News reporter and film critic Shawn Edwards, who is programming partner for the project. 

The 45,000 square foot Boone Theater opened as The New Rialto Theater in 1924. Along with the Eblon, Lincoln and Gem Theaters, it served as a vital core to the commercial and entertainment center created by the Black community in the Historic Jazz District.

In 1929, it was renamed the Boone Theater in honor of John “Blind” Boone, a blind Black composer and concert pianist from Missouri whose music influenced Kansas City jazz. Boone died in 1927.

“I am proud to see continued investments in the Historic 18th and Vine District — one that I proudly lived in and represented on the city council for years,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said.

City manager Brian Platt said 18th and Vine is the top redevelopment priority for their team.

“This district will be the foundation of building economic vitality and vibrancy across the east side of Kansas City, bringing new jobs, new activity and entertainment, more housing, and more opportunities,” Platt said.

The Boone Theater’s redevelopment joins a number of additional projects in the Jazz District:

Privately-Owned Property Redevelopment:

2000 Vine – This project recently broke ground on phase one and is expected to open later this year. The overall project includes the redevelopment of two 10,000 square foot historic buildings. The historic City Water and Public Works buildings, built in 1866, are being converted to retail and restaurant use.

Tenants currently announced for the project include the city’s first Black-owned brewery, Vine Street Brewing, the Benton Lloyd & Chung law firm, Parson + Associates public relations firm and Phronesis, an urban planning and design firm. Additional retail space will be available in the near future.

Developers hope to promote a pedestrian-oriented Vine Street corridor through this project with wider sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and on-street parking.

Attucks School at 19th and Woodland – Zhou-B Art Center (1818 E. 19th Street) – The $20 million redevelopment plan calls for the building to be renovated into an arts and cultural center that will include 43 artist studios and seven gallery and event spaces.  In March, the City Council approved an extension of the original development agreement when it became apparent the project wouldn’t be completed by the original 2021 deadline.  The new project completion deadline was set as July 2023. 

The project developers, the Zho Brothers, opened a similar award-winning arts center in Chicago in 2004.  Their team blamed pandemic related problems as a source of many of the project’s delays.  

Parade Park Neighborhood – After a contentious lawsuit, brought by Parade Park residents in 2016, stalled a major overhaul of the 50-year-old Co-op housing project, renovation at the site is getting underway in baby steps.  The early phase of the project will demolish seven buildings in the 510-unit development and replace them with a 100-unit senior housing project. 

Wheatly-Provident Hospital (1826 Forest) – This project involves an $8.4 million historic rehabilitation of the city’s first privately owned Black hospital, built in 1903. The developer has proposed an adaptive reuse of the property for commercial purposes including healthcare, health tech, life sciences, research and development tenants. 

One Nine Vine – (1900 Vine, 1903 and 1931 Paseo) – This is a proposed $68 million, three-phase project with phase one consisting of construction of a six-story multifamily new construction building on a currently vacant lot at 19th and Vine.  Phase One will include 17,500 sq. ft. of retail on the first floor and 60, one- and two-bedroom units on the five upper floors.  Off street and some covered parking is included in the project.  Fourteen affordable units are proposed in the project that has an updated completion date of November 2022. 

Phase II of the project will consist of 200 middle-income apartment units with plans for a 30,000 sq. ft. grocery store on the first floor. Off street park is also proposed for this project.  Phrase II of the project will provide 50 market rate rental units, plus 35,000 sq. ft. of restaurant and retail space on the first floor and 33,000 sq. ft of office space.   

Paseo YMCA – Future Buck O’Neil Research Center.  Opening of this renovated site to house an education and research center named after Negro League star Buck O’Neil was set back in 2018 when vandals broke into the building a cut a water pipe which flooded two floors of the building.

Keystone Innovation District – The concept of innovation districts is sweeping the country.  They’ve become hubs for education, research, entrepreneurship, employment, regional collaboration and programming all with the goal of creating economic prosperity over the long term.  The district will be constructed on a 2-acres site of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority located between 17th and 18th streets, from Troost to Forest avenues. 

The idea is that uniting a variety of stakeholders in the district will bring density and scale to innovation and entrepreneurship.  In addition to office and co-working space, the district would include educational programming, accelerators and incubators, mixed-income housing and amenities that could include restaurants and event space.  This project, overseen by a non-profit corporation, is still in its early stages. 

21 Flora & 21 Vine – Proposed live-work townhomes.

City-Owned Property Redevelopment:

18th and Garfield (2010 E. 18th Street) – The city has received multiple inquiries from potential developers for this empty property and plans to issue an RFP soon.

18th & Lydia and 3 parcels along 18th Street (1819 and 1831 Lydia; 1801 Grove; 1800-1802 Paseo) – The city has issued an RFP for new residential and/or commercial or mixed-use construction and is reviewing responses.

18th & Agnes – The city has issued an RFP for new residential and/or commercial or mixed-use construction and is reviewing responses for this as well.

A map of the projects can be found here:

Big 18th & Vine District Mixed-Use Plan Before Development Agency – CitySceneKC

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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