About one year ago, business owners renting space at the Location One building received some daunting news: they were all being put out.
The six-story high rise, located on 63rd Street, just east of Hwy 71, was the largest hub for Black-owned businesses in the city. The building was home to more than 150 businesses including nail techs, doctors, therapists, clothing boutiques and hair dressers. Many of the businesses had been there for more than 20 years.
While they were given plenty of time to relocate, the end of the Black-business hub is imminent. All of the businesses must be out by May 1 to make room for a new development.
Clarity Development Co., who purchased the property last year, will demolish the existing building and construct a six-floor, multi-family building with 181 affordable apartments. The “affordable” apartments, scheduled to be called Brookside East, are designed for those making up to 60% of Kansas City’s median income. Rent is expected to be between $850 to $875 per month for one and two bedroom apartments.
Of the building’s 150 businesses, about 40 businesses are left to relocate or call it quits. Many of the business owners left are in the process of packing their things, while others are taking their time, continuing to run their business as the termination day approaches.
Nail technician Brenda Fadell, owner of Brenda’s Nail World on the sixth floor of the building is still taking clients in her suite and planning to move out in the next couple weeks.
“Everything must come to an end,” she said. “It’s kind of sad, because it takes me back to the Oklahoma Black Wall Street. This is a melting pot [of different businesses].”
While she does not have a new space yet, Fadell said she will continue running her business when the building closes. “Wherever I go, my clients will follow,” she said confidently.
Another business owner, Zach Mitchell, owner of Zach’s Kitchen on the first floor of the building said he’s excited about his new location. His restaurant, moving to 3631 Prospect Ave., serves breakfast and lunch food including bacon, eggs and sandwiches.
Willa Robinson, owner of Willa’s Books and Vinyl has thousands of books and vinyls in her store on the first floor of the building. While she hasn’t begun packing and doesn’t know where she’ll move yet, she’s looking forward to moving to a new, larger space.
The building was widely known as a community resource and haven for Black entrepreneurs with fair rent and easy access. The spaces rented at about $10 per square foot, well below market rate.
“A lot of businesses have stayed in this area because it’s where they’re able to serve the community,” said Sheri Hall with Poetry for Personal Power who had office space in the Location One Building. “This building is right off the bus line and it’s easily accessible to people who have low to moderate income.”