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Contractor Lends Blight-Busting Hand

Monday, January 19, 2015

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Few people resolve to demolish more in the New Year, but for contractor Jim Kissick, it's a resolution that he can keep, while helping out his community.

Kissick Construction Company Inc., a heavy civil contractor in Kansas City, MO, is donating time, labor and equipment to raze abandoned buildings and clean up the blighted areas around them.

Owner Jim Kissick said he had been moved to act by an article in the Kansas City Star that addressed both the human impact of blight and the city's lack of funding to tackle its demolition hit list of 1,200 properties.

Kansas City
Screenshot from KCTV

A Kansas City contractor is helping to clean up the city, one abandoned building at a time.

"The city was struggling with trying to keep up with the demolition of abandoned houses and potentially drug houses," Kissick said.

"If any of these houses happen to be drug-related, abandoned houses and we could do something to save one boy or one girl from getting involved in that activity, it would be very special to us."

Kissick's only condition: The city had to cut out any red tape that would drag out the project. Deal, the city said.

The effort, which began in November, has residents rejoicing that the buildings—which can attract both crime and varmints—are coming down, and at no cost to the taxpayers, according to reports by a local television station.

Dangerous Eyesores

“A lot of those houses are in the neighborhood of our office,” Kissick co-owner Pete Browne told KCTV. “These are our neighbors. They have a real risk here with [these] houses […]

Kissick Construction
Kissick Construction Company

Founded in 1994, Kissick Construction's portfolio includes architectural and bridge construction projects.

“We just thought that’s not the way we want our neighbors to have to live.”

KCTV reported that the city usually paid $8,500 to demolish a dangerous building.

Kissick had razed two homes by Jan. 12 and expected to raze five more by the end of last week.

The company chose structures closest to its office, in an area called Marlborough.

Thrilled neighbors have a variety of plans for the newly cleared lots.

“We might try to build a community garden or a pocket park,” Brenda Thomas, the president of the Marlborough Community Coalition, told KCTV.


Kissick Construction hopes its efforts will inspire other contractors to do the same in their communities.

Kissick Construction

"[I]f we can get our peer contractors interested in the program and they can donate some demolition, we can start to make a dent in the large list of homes slated for demolition," said a spokeswoman.

"Our intent was to use this project as a prototype for the City," Babette Macy, of Kissick Construction, said in an email.

"Our hope is that other contractors will see the success of this project and decide to donate their services, too. For example, if we can get our peer contractors interested in the program and they can donate some demolition, we can start to make a dent in the large list of homes slated for demolition."

Kissick has done free demolition before for nonprofits in the area, tearing down abandoned homes so neighbors could build playgrounds or ball fields.

"The project is important for the city for a couple of reasons," said Macy.

"One is that when people are trying to invest in their neighborhood, as Marlborough has been, it becomes a challenge with boarded-up homes impacting your progress.

Kissick Construction

The demolition supports Kissick Construction's mission of civic partnership, officials said.

"These homes become a place for vagrants, animals and also vandals target them for anything of value, which can cause other crime in the neighborhood to occur."

...And Partnership

Such projects are part of Kissick's overall mission of civic partnership, the company said.

"Each year, Kissick Construction donates services to the community that usually involve using their equipment to help out a nonprofit," said Macy.

"...Projects such as these allow our employees to give their time and talent to serve a greater good.

"It’s a win-win for all involved."


Tagged categories: Business matters; Community service; Construction; Contractors; Demolition; North America; philanthropy; Program/Project Management

Comment from woody woodson, (1/22/2015, 11:30 AM)

great job Kissick. KC thanks you

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