Former Mayor Charles Wheeler will get to stay in his foreclosed house. For a little while longer, anyway. Earlier this week, The Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske reported that the beloved Wheeler was being forced out of the house on West 53rd Street because he owed $40,000 in back taxes and insurance payments.
James B. Nutter was going to auction the home, which Wheeler has lived in for 40 years, on the Jackson County Courthouse steps today. But, in a press release, the company says it will give Wheeler until July 1 to move. "The best thing for Charles to do is find a place to live that is smaller, more manageable and more affordable," the statement said.
Wheeler, 86, told The Star that he and his wife plan on moving into a duplex in July, and that they were looking forward to not having to climb stairs. He also said the cost of his wife's health care partially caused them to fall behind in payments. The home has a value of more than $600,000.
In its statement, James B. Nutter said it had done all it could to help Wheeler out:
"The last thing we want to do is to foreclose on anyone. Our mission for 62 years at this company has been to help people purchase the home they want, and to help them stay there as long as they want. We have done everything we could, for the longest time, to help Charlie Wheeler keep his home. It is sad, but years of non-payment of property taxes, as required by law, makes it difficult for us to help him anymore. The best thing for Charles to do is find a place to live that is smaller, more manageable and more affordable. We just ask that, after years of promises, Charlie give us his word, in writing, that he will be moved and settled in a new location by July 2013.
Wheeler was elected in 1971 and served for two terms. During his time in office, Kansas City went through a cultural renaissance that included the construction of Kauffman Stadium, Crown Center and KCI. Since news of Wheeler's trouble surfaced, many Kansas Citians contributed to an Indie Gogo fundraising campaign. Before the sale was canceled, residents kicked in more than $10,000 to pay off Wheeler's debts.