11-story apartment high-rise proposed for River Market at 3rd and Oak | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV

  • Looking south from Oak and 3rd, you can see the site of the proposed high-rise, now an empty lot. Picture by Travis Meier
  • This panoramic view of Oak and 3rd shows Cold Storage Lofts on the left, the proposed site in the middle and Strange Days Brewing Co. on the right. Picture by Travis Meier.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The River Market could be the home to yet another large apartment building, this time an 11-story apartment high-rise with around 235 apartments at the southeast corner of Oak Street and 3rd Street.

Tentatively dubbed Defeo, the $45 million tower proposal includes nine stories of construction atop a two-story concrete parking podium. The apartments will be a mixture of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, ranging from 600 to 2,000 square feet, Jake Gifford, vice president of development for Maxus Properties Inc., said.

New River Market apartment building planned for 4th and Broadway

“Through the use of strategically sized roof decks and stair-stepped apartments, the building will meld into the fabric of the neighborhood rather than dominating its surroundings,” he said.

Maxus representatives hope to meet with the city’s development assistance team later in March, according to a Wednesday filing in the city’s development database.

Read more about the proposed apartments on the Kansas City Business Journal


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10 Standout Black Small Business Owners From The Next 1000

PHOTOS BY TAMARA BECKWITH, COURTESY OFO EZEUGWU, COURTESY KAI FRAZIER, COURTESY OF JY MAZE

The United States is home to three million Black-owned businesses, 88% of which are sole proprietorships, according to the Census Bureau. And yet, these businesses  generate more than $150 billion in annual revenue, per the Minority Business Development Agency. 

When Covid-19 started to spread across the country last year, it took a disproportionate toll on this community, with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York  reporting  the number of Black-owned businesses dropped a whopping 41% from February to April 2020—marking the worst decline among all demographics during the darkest months of the pandemic.

Still, these entrepreneurs have remained resilient, and entering 2021, nearly half say they expect revenues to increase and the economy to improve, according to a Bank of America study. Moreover, nearly 25% expect to hire, a surefire sign of optimism. 

With this in mind, it should come as little surprise that Black business owners shone brightly on Forbes’ inaugural Next 1000 list of small-scale superachievers redefining what it means to build and run a business today. They represent nearly 32% of applicants (thus far—nominations are open year-round) and 20% of our first group of 250 honorees. 

Here, we take a look at 10 standouts.



Jomaree Pinkard

Cofounder, HellaCocktail

Sector: Food & Drink

Hella Cocktail Co. started with Pinkard, and two friends, figuring out how to kick their drinks up a notch. Support from the cocktail community rallied them to transform their pastime into a business. The hobby-turned-venture offers inventive products to devise new cocktails or improve on old ones. Pinkard and Co. bootstrapped the business with $2,500, which now boasts seven figure revenues and has Delta Air Lines and Madison Square Garden as clients.

Website: https://hellacocktail.co/

Elise Smith

Cofounder, Praxis Labs

Sector: Social Entrepreneurs

Smith and Heather Shen cofounded social impact venture Praxis Labs, which partners with organizations to increase diversity and inclusion outcomes through research-backed immersive learning experiences. The business has eight clients, including Google, Target, Amazon, eBay and Uber, and eight full-time employees. Prior to Praxis Labs, Smith invested in and coached entrepreneurs developing D&I solutions. Smith previously worked at IBM Watson where she developed Watson for Education products, led B2B sales and edtech partnerships. 

Website: https://www.praxislabs.co/

Ajamu Kambon

Cofounder, Deep Root Record

Sector: Music

29-year-old Kambon partnered with DJ and producer Francis Mercier in 2015 to launch Deep Root Records, an independent record label that offers artist management, event production, music distribution and publishing. Deep Root found its groove with its synchronization and licensing division, which has landed song placements in movies, ads, TV shows and more with industry giants like Spotify, Nike, Steve Madden and Netflix.

Website: https://www.deeprootrecords.com

Jehiel Oliver

CEO, Hello Tractor

Sector: Manufacturing & Industry

Tractors can make a significant bottom line difference for small-time farmers, improving efficiency and reducing labor constraints. But buying them is expensive and access to financing is not readily available. Seeing the untapped commercial potential, Oliver founded Hello Tractor, which facilitates on-demand tractor services between owners and small-time farmers. The business, which operates primarily in Nigeria, has raised more than $1.5 million since 2014.

Website: https://hellotractor.com/

Kayla Michele

Cofounder, PeduL

Sector: Education

Disappointed by not being able to attend her dream university due to lack of financial assistance, Michele, 25, founded data-driven scholarship marketplace PeduL alongside cofounder Chisa Egbelu in 2016. The platform allows students to apply to thousands of scholarships at one time through one universal application and last year started helping students find internships as well. PeduL has approximately 1.4 million users and counts major corporate partners like Viacom, Paramount Pictures and Juniper Networks as clients.

Website: https://www.pedul.com/

Ofo Ezeugwu

Founder, WhoseYourLandlord

Sector: Real Estate

While attending Temple University, Ezeugwu says he heard horror stories from students living on and around campus, ranging from female residents being harassed by landlords to students living in infested apartments. So, he decided to take action by creating WhoseYourLandlord, a multipurpose platform that allows users to submit landlord reviews, increasing housing literacy in communities. Since 2016, WhoseYourLandlord has raised $1.1 million and reviewed 22,000 landlords across more than 300 U.S. cities.

Website: https://wyl.co/

Mandy Bowman

CEO, Official Black Wall Street

Sector: Retail & Ecommerce

Bowman was inspired by the legacy of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street—destroyed in the 1921 race massacre—to set up Official Black Wall Street, a digital platform helping consumers find, review, and support Black-owned businesses. First launched in 2015 as a website followed by an app two years later, the platform has placed Bowman at the forefront of the #BuyBlack movement. Business has grown sevenfold between 2019 and 2020 and the team now counts seven members.

Website: https://hypel.ink/officialblackwallstreet

Kai Frazier

Founder, Kai KR

Sector: Education

Homeless at 16, Frazier overcame her circumstances to not only earn a college degree but to launch a career in education that would fuel an entrepreneurial vision. Frazier is the founder of Kai XR, a virtual reality platform aimed at making education accessible to all. A pre-seed round of funding for Kai XR was oversubscribed; the service has also won Frazier every pitch competition she’s entered, including ones at SxSW and AnitaB.org.

Website: https://www.kaixr.com/

Martin Ekechukwu

Cofounder, WHTWRKS Inc.

Sector: Marketing & Advertising

A Nigerian immigrant, Ekechukwu cofounded WHTWRKS with two goals in mind—to break his family’s cycle of poverty by creating generational wealth and to help change the perception of people of color by using and telling their unique stories. Founded in 2013, WHTWRKS is an entirely Black-owned marketing strategy consulting firm that writes creates content and writes strategy for brands looking to reach Black audiences. 

Website: https://whtwrks.com/

Jy Maze

CEO, Maze Freight Solutions

Sector: Manufacturing & Industry

Maze, 40, is CEO of Kansas-based shipping and logistics startup Maze Freight Solutions. Founded in 2017 after working in transportation and supply chain management for over 12 years, her company is completely self-funded and was recognized locally as one of Kansas City’s top minority-owned businesses by the Kansas City Business Journal last year.

Website: https://mazefreightsolutions.com/




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Waddell & Reed no longer planning to move to new downtown KC office tower | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Investment company Waddell & Reed is staying put in Overland Park. The news comes after the company’s pending acquisition and plans to cut 200 workers.

The company made an incentive deal with Kansas City for a multimillion dollar high-rise downtown. Now, the sign outside the construction site says “coming 2022,” but the tenant won’t be Waddell & Reed.

However, according to the city, the project will continue no matter what because the developer and company are under contract. The $140 million building will sit empty for now.

Waddell & Reed to sell for $1.7B, raising questions about future of $140M office tower

Fourth District Councilman Eric Bunch said he was the deciding ‘yes’ vote on the incentive plan. He said he hesitated in voting for the project but felt Kansas City Public Schools would benefit in the long run from the project, based on funding.

“I think we saw the warning signs that this is something that could happen. So my job now is going to be to figure out what’s next? And who’s going to occupy that building,” Bunch said.

Bunch said he will be looking at what clawbacks will be possible.

The city agreed to a 6-year 75% tax abatement with the company. After nine years, it would turn into 37.5%. The developer also got a sales tax exemption on construction materials, along with other incentives.

Waddell & Reed was acquired by the Australia-based Macquarie Group. A Macquarie representative said in a statement:

“We can confirm that we will not be occupying the new building, Macquarie and LPL remain committed to the region and supporting the needs of our clients and staff here.”

Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson voted ‘no’ on the 18-story tower. She said she will no longer support incentives in the downtown district. 

“At some point we have to allow the market to perform in that area. And that’s one of the reasons why I feel like we should be shifting tax incentives. And we should be shifting development east of Troost in areas that desperately need it,” Robinson said.

Mayor Quinton Lucas would not comment on the move, but his deputy chief of staff, Morgan Said, said in a statement: 

“Macquarie is contractually committed to lease or sublease the Class A office space, and the developer is committed to constructing the building to completion. The developer has shared that the project remains on time and on budget.”

The state of Missouri offered $62 million in incentives to the company for the move.


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‘Buy Black Kansas City’ movement supports black-owned businesses

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is another movement catching on in a show of support. It’s called Buy Black Kansas City.Business is steady at Ruby Jean’s Juicery at 30th Street and Troost in Kansas City.Some new customers were drawn here because of posts on social media to Buy Black Kansas City. It’s a movement urging people to show solidarity by supporting black-owned businesses.Owner Chris Goode said he appreciates the response.”When you buy black and you’re tangibly, intentionally saying, ‘I’m going to put dollars into a disenfranchised community,’ whether I’m white, Asian, Hispanic or whatever the case may be. That’s saying something,” Goode said.Goode grew up in the area and started his business here. He said it is all about unity. He said he has also lived the pain that is now spilling over into protests.He said the community support for black businesses is good, but he prays for bigger changes.”More than the emotional and pain of today, what I’m interested in is the progress and sustainable movement for tomorrow and the day after that, and the months and the years to come,” Goode said.Ruby Jean’s mission is painted on the wall: Health is freedom. Goode said he has always believed that health is something that ties us all together.”It was painted at the very beginning because that’s what we stand for. That’s what we want to represent — progress that speaks to the pain of black people,” he said.

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is another movement catching on in a show of support. It’s called Buy Black Kansas City.

Business is steady at Ruby Jean’s Juicery at 30th Street and Troost in Kansas City.

Some new customers were drawn here because of posts on social media to Buy Black Kansas City. It’s a movement urging people to show solidarity by supporting black-owned businesses.

Owner Chris Goode said he appreciates the response.

“When you buy black and you’re tangibly, intentionally saying, ‘I’m going to put dollars into a disenfranchised community,’ whether I’m white, Asian, Hispanic or whatever the case may be. That’s saying something,” Goode said.

Goode grew up in the area and started his business here. He said it is all about unity. He said he has also lived the pain that is now spilling over into protests.

He said the community support for black businesses is good, but he prays for bigger changes.

“More than the emotional and pain of today, what I’m interested in is the progress and sustainable movement for tomorrow and the day after that, and the months and the years to come,” Goode said.

Ruby Jean’s mission is painted on the wall: Health is freedom. Goode said he has always believed that health is something that ties us all together.

“It was painted at the very beginning because that’s what we stand for. That’s what we want to represent — progress that speaks to the pain of black people,” he said.




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Summer Moon coffee shop in Overland Park a first of its kind in Kansas City | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A Texas-based coffee chain just expanded to Overland Park with their unique tasting coffee, a first for the Kansas City area.

A local couple recently opened Summer Moon Coffee at 91st Street and Metcalf Avenue. The franchise, which only has one other non-Texas location in Oklahoma, does their coffee a little differently.

Pictures on the wall depict their unique bean roasting style, showing an apparatus over an open flame. Store owner Shelly Graham said kiln roasting gives it a flavor that air roasting can’t achieve.

“It has a unique, smooth flavor that people love,” Graham said. “It’s very non-acidic.”

The result is so good, this new coffee place is seeing unbelievable business. Graham said there are lines out the doors most weekend mornings.

Graham said she and her family were down in Texas and happened across this different type of coffee. They fell in love.

“We ended up loving it so much, we wanted to bring it to Kansas,” she said.

Summer Moon continues a trend of Texas-based stores finding a warm welcome in the KC metro. Whataburger has extensive plans for several locations, which were announced in 2020.

Overland Park commission approves preliminary plans for new Whataburger location

Some of Summer Moon’s beverages also have a special ingredient: moon milk. It’s basically cream infused with syrup, and people can’t seem to get enough.

“It’s our signature sweet cream that we use in our coffees and our lattes, and people go crazy for it,” Graham said. “It’s seven secret ingredients.”

She said she is thankful for the support and love from the community, as people have already come from all over Kansas and Missouri to taste this Texas treat.

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2 Kansas City metro Kohl’s stores part of first Sephora concept launch | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV

Rendering of Sephora section inside of a Kohl’s, courtesy of Kohl’s.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A pair of Kansas City-area Kohl’s stores will be among the first to offer a new Sephora store-within-a-store.

Kohl’s locations in SummitWoods Crossing in Lee’s Summit and Metro North in Kansas City are in a group of 200 to showcase the beauty products as part of a new push, USA Today reports.

Kohl’s announced the new concept in December. 

The collaboration between Wisconsin-based Kohl’s and Sephora, the world’s largest specialty beauty retailer, will feature a “fully-immersive, premium beauty destination” located in a 2,500-square-foot space at the front of stores, according to the announcement.

‘Not a pop-up’: 200 Sephora locations to open in Kohl’s stores in 2021

“This is not a pop-up collaboration, but an investment our brand partners can rely on for the long-term,” Jean-André Rougeot, president and CEO of Sephora Americas, said.

The Kohl’s has 10 stores in the Kansas City metro area. 

Read more details on the Kansas City Business Journal


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Neighbors frustrated by trash piles linked to KCMO pet store

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Neighbors near 50th and Brooklyn in Kansas City, Missouri are frustrated with the amount of illegal dumping taking place in their community.

“Is there words to describe frustration, there isn’t, because we live here and we are not this and so we do not want to be labeled this, this is not our trash,” Linda Brown, President of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Association, said.

Brown told 41 Action News that the community members do clean-ups year-round, but the site piles back up with trash.

“What we’re finding out is not the neighbors, the neighbors are doing a good job of keeping it clean, but it’s outsiders that are coming in our neighborhood making this happen,” Brown said.

Kansas City’s illegal dumping investigator, Alan Ashurst, confirmed Brown’s statement. Ashurst linked the majority of the piles of trash to a local business owner.

On four separate occasions over the past year, Ashurst has found trash belonging to Dana Crawford, owner of Champwork Pet Supplies near 72nd and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.

The first time his trash was found, Ashurst let Crawford go with a warning, but has since issued three summons.

“Then I come out and literally a week later after having this exact same conversation and here’s his trash,” Ashurst said.

Crawford told 41 Action News that he hired an employee to take his trash to the city dump, and blames that employee for the illegal dumping. Crawford also stated the employee no longer works for him.

Over the phone, Crawford told 41 Action News he would go out to 50th and Brooklyn and clean up the trash.

Ashurst said he was told the same story when he issued Crawford a warning.

“It’s the same thing over and over again, people just aren’t listening or they just don’t care,” Ashurst said.

Regardless of who is to blame, residents just want their neighborhood clean and purchased cameras to put up in the area to put a stop to illegal dumping.

“We care about how our neighborhood looks and we don’t like it looking like this,” said Brown.

Anyone who locates an illegal dumping site or see someone illegally dumping their trash should 311.




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