Shalaunda Holmes

“5232 Paseo which is now MLK Blvd and I can give the address because the home is no longer there. We were displaced due to the Rockhurst expansion. They built housing for the students in 1993. Most of my stories are from there. I identified with streets. My grandma lived on 32nd and we lived on 52nd. I remember moving because I was going to get my own room. I had two older brothers so I slept with my mom. I was like “oh my gosh this is heaven”.

It was a duplex. The most I loved about the top and bottom duplex is the front porch was huge. On the bottom, our front porch was open but on the second floor, the front porch was screen in. I could see all the way down Paseo. The view was much better and I would pretend I was in an airplane. There were a lot of kids in the neighborhood. We would walk to the candy store on 55th and Troost. We would get candy for a penny. We would walk around and look for pennies to buy candy. In the winter, we would wish for snow. My birthday was in November and I wanted it to snow on my birthday.

My mom was very protective. We spent a lot of time on the front porch. We would play punch buggy. My brothers would play football in the middle part of Paseo. Sometimes, I would talk to my friend on her front porch next to mine. My cousins lived in Grandview. They lived in a single-family home with a huge yard with grass. When I went to visit them, I wanted to move into a single family house. They had a park and nicer sidewalks. Everything was new. They had trees and benches and jungle gyms. For 7 years, I had this compare and contrast. In my mind, you had to move south to get what you wanted. I was always comparing and contrasting the urban core and suburbs. Why is the urban core so different? Why can’t we live in the city and get what we want?

“In my mind, you had to move south to get what you wanted. I was always comparing and contrasting the urban core and the suburbs. Why is the urban core so different?”

In high school, I loved to draw. I love nature and I love to draw. I went to get a degree in landscape architecture. Halfway through my degree, my questions of why things are where they are were not being answered. I discovered community and regional planning. How I grew up threw me into what I do. Now I’m in real estate development. I did not know back then you could pick where you put things. When Rockhurst expanded, I did not understand why we had to move. Now I understand because we were renters. I think living where we did was really great. Different outlooks to planning. I’m a city girl and love the urban core. I live in UNI again. I work for UNI and I wanted to live in UNI. I found a house in Manheim. It’s a rehab. The house is 108 years old. My bus in 5th grade middle school bus passes my house now. 

A lot of people I went to school with live out south. It makes no sense for me to go south. Eat, play, and go to church in the city. I have been in real-estate for 15 years now. I saw the deterioration of the urban core. I remember when 32nd street was all kids and families. Now, all the houses are empty and vacant. It’s been that way for the last 15 years. Coming back and seeing the decline. This was a great position for me to take. It’s hard because no one has money. It will take time, but it can happen. It comes back to my connection to being younger and questioning why things were there.”