After more than a decade, a redevelopment plan for 1612 Grand Blvd. finally may remove an eyesore from the prominent commercial artery just south of Kansas City’s downtown loop.
Kelley Hrabe, co-owner of Prairie Fire Development Group, said he expects to begin noticeable work within three months to turn the boarded-up historic building into offices for his company and other tenants.
Hrabe last year unsuccessfully sought to sell the three-story brick and concrete structure and the adjacent padlocked parking lot for about $800,000. Before that, his group had proposed renovating it into market-rate apartments but backed off when so many other new and renovated housing developments blossomed in the downtown area.
“That part of Grand is really starting to come around now, and we’re going the office-retail route,” Hrabe said.
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Immediately south of Hrabe’s building, Colliers International is marketing a vacant, one-story storefront building at 1616 Grand. South of that, Messenger Coffee Co. has bought the two-story corner building at 1624 Grand to house Ibis Bakery, a coffee shop and cafe.
Hrabe said his group was putting about $3.2 million in redevelopment costs into the building that once housed the Maxwell Briscoe Garage, a showroom for the Maxwell automobile. The building carries historic tax credits.
The garage history gives the building some off-street parking advantages. In addition to 18 spots on the adjacent surface lot, there are 10 underground spaces beneath the lot, accessible from the back alley.
The difference in elevation — the front on Grand is higher than the back alley — gives the building about 1,500 square feet of leasable office space on the alley side. Floors one through three each have about 4,200 square feet of leasable space.
Hrabe said Prairie Fire Development will move its offices to whichever floor isn’t sought by yet-to-be-signed tenants.
“We want our offices to be a showplace for what we can do in redevelopment,” he said.
A priority will be to strip off deteriorating siding and boards covering the windows, replicate former decorative cornice work, punch in windows on the parking lot side of the building, and do other exterior cosmetic work, Hrabe said. The development group also has undertaken some interior systems improvements and remediation, he said.