Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this series followed Kansas City’s path to a jazz museum, from initial interest in the 1960s up to the city council finding out that a project for which they had set aside $20 million would cost $36.9 million and run an annual deficit of nearly $2 million. And it would be built in an inner city park.
Meanwhile, plans for another important piece of the 18th and Vine district started separately.
“This week a City Council committee recommended that the full council approve a $2 million federal loan application to renovate and convert the Gem Theater into a performing arts and cultural arts center….
“Plans for the theater…are further along than plans for other major projects in the area….
“The theater would seat 800 to 1000 people and would be used primarily for concerts and theatrical performances.
“As planned, the theater would have a bar, a gift shop and a small art gallery on the main level, along with the stage and semi-circular seating. A restaurant, administrative offices, a rehearsal room and more seating would be located on the second level. The third level would feature two dance studios….”
—The Kansas City Star, June 8, 1991
“A Kansas City Council committee passed a resolution Wednesday to design and build an international jazz hall of fame and jazz teaching academy near 18th and Vine streets….
“The resolution…appropriates $14.6 million in sales taxes to the jazz complex and related improvements.
“[The] city development director told the Finance Committee on Wednesday that the first step would be to hire architects to design the buildings.
“Construction bids would be taken in about 14 months…with buildings completed by early 1995….
“The resolution commits $9.3 million for the jazz hall and adjacent teaching academy, $3.7 million for site improvements, land acquisition and parking, and $878,000 for sidewalks, lights, and related improvements.
“An additional $689,000 would be used to design a museum for the Negro Baseball Leagues and a new building for the Black Archives of Mid-America. Construction of those buildings would occur in a $5.37 million second phase.
—The Kansas City Star, September 5, 1991
An article the next day says that the Kansas City council unanimously approved the resolution, “followed by embraces among people who have promoted plans for the jazz center, the baseball museum and the black archives near 18th and Vine streets.”
The difference between the money appropriated and the projected cost, and the operating deficits, would be discussions for another day.
“A tug of war is under way to decide who will control the new institution at 18th and Vine and what it will actually contain.
“Tugging on one side is Eddie Baker, head of the financially struggling Charlie Parker Foundation.
“On the other side are people who disagree on much but are united on one thing: Eddie Baker should not be in charge of the jazz hall.
“Baker is looking to pre-empt his critics. Late last week, he said he would announce the appointment of a board of directors for the new jazz hall in a week to 10 days.
“Such a board, handpicked by Baker and his allies, would be in a position to make crucial decisions about how the publicly financed, $14.6 million jazz hall would work….
“‘We have had consultation with a lot of people relative to putting this board together," [Baker] said. "We have this prerogative....This has always been the concept of the Charlie Parker Foundation.’”
—The Kansas City Star, November 27, 1991
“Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver wants to appoint a seven-person board to oversee redevelopment of the 18th and Vine historic district.
“A resolution Cleaver proposed to the City Council on Wednesday says the board would advise the council and ‘lend additional credibility’ to the project in financial and cultural communities….
“Cleaver intends to seek board members from such fields as banking, business, law, public relations and cultural activities.
“’The board will be a group of movers and shakers who will be asked to help make some significant decisions,’ Cleaver said Friday.”
—The Kansas City Star, November 30, 1991
“The way is clear for Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver to name a seven-person board to oversee projects in the 18th & Vine cultural district.
“The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved Cleaver's request to appoint the board, which is to advise the council on building and operating 18th & Vine facilities….
“A Cleaver resolution approved by the council Wednesday specifies six duties for the oversight committee, which Cleaver also calls a board of directors….
“The duties: solidify building plans, review available funds, help raise more money, advise the council on scope of the projects, recommend a marketing plan, and provide a plan for resolving differences between competing interests in the area.”
—The Kansas City Star, December 12, 1991
“Mayor Emanuel Cleaver on Friday named six persons with backgrounds in business, entertainment and government to oversee development of the 18th and Vine historic district.”
—The Kansas City Star, March 21, 1992
The appointment of this board will prove to be a major step in advancing the development of the 18th and Vine district, in producing an economically viable vision and in incorporating the renovation of the Gem Theater.
Details in the next installment, next month.