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Affordable Apartment Proposal Would Bring More Bark to Berkley

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2 minute read

By Kevin Collison

The organization behind The Grooming Project, a non-profit that provides career training in dog grooming for impoverished single parents, wants to open another school on the riverfront as part of an affordable apartment project.

EPEC, which stands for Empowering the Parent to Empower Children, is applying for state low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) for a proposed 45-unit project that would be located at 700 Berkley Parkway.

Jarrod Sanderson of EPEC said the proposal calls for a 5,000 square foot training space on the first level of the building with three levels of apartments above. All but five of the units would be designated for affordable housing.

The Grooming Project, which was founded in 2016, has a school at 5829 Troost and a salon in Lee’s Summit. Sanderson said the demand for training is so great, a second school is needed.

“We saw this as an opportunity to meet two needs,” he said. “We have the affordable housing need and this would be an opportunity to add another school on site.”

EPEC is applying for $483,000 in state LIHTC assistance and $690,000 from a similar federal tax credit program, according to its application to the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

Plans call for eight, one-bedroom units, $295-$895 per month; 33 two-bed, $305-$1,058, and four, three-bed, $333-$1,430.

The proposed location of the EPEC apartment and dog-grooming training center would be on property controlled by Port KC and close to another dog-oriented attraction on the riverfront, Bar K. The popular bar, cafe and dog park opened in 2018.

Bar K has grown significantly since its opening and recently announced plans to add two more locations in St. Louis and Oklahoma City. It also has plans to expand at its current site on the riverfront.

NaTasha is one of the students learning dog grooming career skills through The Grooming Project initiative. (Photo from The Grooming Project)

Sanderson said if EPEC’s application for tax credits is approved by the MHDC, construction on the $10 million apartment project and school could begin by next fall with completion in 2022.

The new school would allow The Grooming Project to train an additional 25- to 30 students through its six-month program.

“The Grooming Project is…devoted to helping impoverished families become self-reliant through job training in the high-demand, high-pay trade of pet grooming,” according to the program’s website.

The website states dog groomers can earn up to $70,000 annually, and the profession is open to people who otherwise might not qualify for good employment because of reasons such as past addiction, criminal records or incomplete education.

The program also teaches participants life skills parenting and budgeting classes, mental health support, life skills courses, and other needed medical services coordinated with many local organizations, according to the website.

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