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Heart of the City
Assessment and Restoration



Studies tell us that by cleaning up vacant urban land we can improve the health of the Blue River. When we use nature-based solutions to address blight in our city, we can improve community health and vitality by providing residents access to safe outdoor places for community building and recreation.

Project Location: ~20 acres of vacant land in the heart of Kansas City, Mo., located between 33rd and 39th Streets and bordered by Mersington and Norton; located in City Council Third District, State Congressional District 5; Postal Zip codes 64128 and 64130

Project Partners

  • Center for Neighborhoods, University of Missouri - Kansas City 

  • Kansas City Neighborhoods and Housing Services 

  • Missouri Department of Conservation 

  • The Open Table

  • The River Network

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement 97784001 to Heartland Conservation Alliance Inc. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

Project Goals

To create and adopt a re-use and maintenance plan for the ~20 acres of vacant land that includes long-term programming and strategies for community ownership. We aim to reduce illegal dumping, improve home values; and build pride in and beautify the neighborhood. It is our hope that the restored forest will increase the natural functions of the watershed and urban canopy resulting in cleaner water and cleaner air. This project presents a unique opportunity to restore critical wildlife habitat in an urban core and leverage the restoration to provide opportunities for outreach and engagement for improved community health and safety and address serious environmental justice issues.



2014: Discovered a 40-acre corridor in the Palestine East neighborhood largely owned by the Kansas City Land Bank. Began working with residents to learn how we might work together to re-purpose the land. Through a series of community workshops, we learned that residents wanted to beautify their neighborhood and had deep connections with nature.


2018: Conducted a community survey and discovered that residents also care deeply for environmental issues and have pride in the place where they live.


2019: Conducted an inventory of the trees in the corridor and learned about the health and diversity of the community forest. 587 trees were inventoried and trees considered invasive to Missouri are not dominant, and overall the corridor is fairly healthy.

2021-2022: Nine community members served on a Community Advisory Board to design a re-use plan for ~20 acres of vacant and forested land. HCA will share the plan with the City and strive to collaborate on its implementation. 

2023: KC Water is reviewing contractors' proposals to fix the combined sewer system overflow. HCA and University of Missouri - Kansas City Center for Neighborhoods are working together to keep the community aware of next steps.

Preferred Concept

The preferred concept is a combination of the two draft concepts and was created based on feedback from the Community Advisory Board, feedback provided by residents through surveys and discussions, and during the August public meeting. The draft concepts are listed below.

Preferred Concept

Draft Concepts:

Economic Advance - The draft concept focuses on community investment and entrepreneurship. Specifically, it provides areas where community members can grow and sell fresh produce.  

  • Farmers Market

  • Urban Farming

  • Urban Forest

  • Neighborhood Orchard

  • Playgrounds

  • Trails

  • Shelter

  • Art

Ecosystem Services - The draft concept focuses on pollution removal, carbon storage, oxygen production, and avoided runoff - all the "services" that the urban forest provides the neighborhood. 

Community Garden

  • Bee Boxes

  • Gathering Spaces

  • Giving Grove

  • Native Edibles

  • Urban Forest

  • Trails

Town Hall Meetings

Thursday, August 25, 2022


Community members were invited to discuss the restoration project for the Palestine Corridor extending from 33rd Street to 38th Street and from Mersington Avenue to Norton Avenue are invited to the public meeting. The meeting was a chance for people to express their input regarding the concept drafts from Vireo, as well as gather information about the project.  


Magali Rojas, Environmental Justice Program Manager


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