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$50 million plan would redevelop closed Northland hotel into apartments

Updated: 2013-09-30T21:17:48Z

By KEVIN COLLISON

The Kansas City Star

A decrepit former Ramada Inn off Interstate 29 near the airport would become the center of an apartment development in a $50 million proposal pitched Monday to a local development agency.

Meecorp Capital Markets wants to redevelop the closed 11-story former Ramada Inn KCI Hotel into 101 market-rate apartments. The hotel is more than 40 years old and was once a Northland business mainstay . It was foreclosed on in 2006 and is in rough shape with extensive water damage and other problems, according to the developer of what’s called the Seven 301 project.

“At one point, this was an anchor in the community,” said Sharon Edrei of Meecorp. “There has been so much good will in the community, and we want to meet those expectations and do something wonderful.”

The proposal was introduced to the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority as a preliminary development plan. Details on what incentives will be sought and other design specifics will come later. The authority does have the ability to authorized a property tax abatement for up to 25 years to assist projects.

Edrei said the plan calls for a mix of patio apartments, lofts and other floor plans with amenities that would include a pool. There would also be extensive landscaping and sustainable features such as a rooftop garden, recharging station for electric cars, and accommodations for bicycles. It’s located about a half mile from the Zona Rosa shopping district.

If the group receives the necessary assistance, construction would begin in about three months with completion by the winter of 2014. The development plan also calls for the eventual construction of two other apartment buildings, seven- and five-stories each, for a total of 275 apartments.

The PIEA board also heard several other proposals:

• Developer Butch Rigby wants to convert a building at 1701 McGee St. into a new Screenland Crossroads Theater. The structure was once a car dealership and later was used by The Kansas City Star to house its circulation operations. It’s known for its mural of a newsboy delivering papers.

Rigby said his $2 million redevelopment plan calls for converting the 23,000 square-foot building into two theaters, one with 90 seats, the other 75, as well as space for an architectural firm. Work could begin this winter with completion by next summer. The proposed Screenland would replace the original Crossroads Screenland at 1656 Washington St. that closed in 2013.

• Developer Del Hedgepath wants to redevelop the Congress Building at 3535 Broadway into 45 loft-style apartments on its upper four floors and retain the ground floor for retail and commercial use. The building, which dates to the 1930s, already has an attached garage that would be renovated for 90 spaces. The estimated development cost is $10 million.

• The PIEA board approved a resolution to participate in the Advance KC economic development reform plan being pursued by Mayor Sly James. The agency will relocate its administrative offices from the City Market to the offices of the Kansas City Economic Development Corp. in Town Pavilion by Oct. 1, 2014. Al Figuly will continue to be the executive director.

Four new members appointed by the mayor attended their first meeting: Marvin Lyman owns a consulting firm that specializes in small and minority businesses; Ben Pepper is the assistant loan officer in commercial real estate for Citizens Bank & Trust; Tom Porto is a lawyer at Popham Law Firm and a former public defender, and Brian Noland is a former political campaign consultant and is finishing up his 3rd year in law school at UMKC.

• A redevelopment plan for the historic Meriden Creamery Building at 2100 Central St. previously approved for a 20-year tax abatement by the agency has been changed from an apartment conversion to a mostly office redevelopment.

Developer Vincent Bryant has taken over the deal from Gary Hassenflu. Bryant’s $4.5 million plan calls for first floor retail and office, and offices in the remainder of the four-story building.

To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send email to kcollison@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @kckansascity

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