A three-year-old plan to convert a vacant office tower at 6724 Troost Ave. to senior apartments is reaching fruition with the assistance of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
Work will begin in a few weeks on St. Anthony’s — A Catholic Retirement Community, a $25 million project conceived by developer Mark Ledom, who has worked through three different proposals and financing problems for the former Highland Professional Tower.
“Third time’s a charm,” Ledom said. “After going 0 for 3, we knew we wanted to keep on the road to do something nice, and that’s when we approached the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph about a continuum-of-care community.”
Ledom’s initial plan to convert the nine-story office tower into senior living apartments, stymied by funding problems, has re-emerged as part of a larger development. The tower will become 120 apartments for independent living. But the reborn project is expanded beyond the tower to include two wings of new construction.
One new three-story wing will hold 49 assisted-living apartments; the other wing will hold 54 memory-care units. The two additions, extending west behind the existing tower, will be joined by a new community gathering space and overlook an outdoor courtyard atop the tower’s existing parking garage.
Ledom, who is developing the project with his son, Matt, said he became interested in pursuing a continuous-care concept after his own parents had a difficult time finding something convenient and affordable.
“Most of the comparable places require buy-in and then monthly fees,” Ledom said, citing Santa Marta, a Catholic retirement community in Olathe, and Bishop Spencer Place, an Episcopalian-tied community in Westport. “St. Anthony’s will be monthly rental only.”
With Catholic Charities’ participation, Ledom said, he will be able to bring the project in at rates that are 90 percent of prevailing area costs for such continuous-care facilities.
Catholic Charities acts as a joint venture partner with Ledom’s company, St. Anthony’s LLC, on the project and will receive a profit participation that will be used to financially assist some residents as well as support other Catholic Charities’ missions.
Ledom has owned the office tower since August 2013. Working through the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, he obtained property tax abatements of 100 percent for 15 years, followed by 50 percent for 10 years. The agency also approved a reduction in the 100 percent prevailing wage requirement on the redevelopment project to 30 percent.
“With that, we were finally able to get the conventional financing we needed,” Ledom said.
The Kansas City Plan Commission this month gave the rezoning and development plan approvals for the project to move ahead.
Plans call for the independent-living tower to become “a class-A facility, with a chapel, social area, dining room, wellness center, exercise center, covered parking,” Ledom said. “It will be a real community for people in the Brookside and Waldo neighborhoods, where they can age in place.”
A similar continuum-of-care project in the neighborhood was announced in January by HCA Health Midwest, working with Flint Hills Holdings, to convert the former Baptist-Lutheran Medical Center tower at 6601 Rockhill Road. That plan, still in the works, was introduced as a $25 million conversion of the hospital floors to 150 market-rate units for independent living, skilled nursing and memory care.
The first phase of work on the St. Anthony’s project will be demolition to remove the current exterior face of the tower and replace it with bigger windows and a more modern look. Conversion of the office space to living units is expected to begin in May 2017, with move-in timing targeted for the summer of 2018.
The independent-living tower will have 96 one-bedroom units and 24 two-bedroom units. Ledom said rates will start in the range of $2,700 a month, a price that includes rent, utilities, cable, internet, underground parking, wellness center/spa access, continental breakfast and one additional meal a day, with an option to buy a larger meal plan.
Construction of the two new assisted-living and memory-care buildings is expected to begin in August 2017, with move-in targets of fall 2018. Rates in those facilities will be higher than for the independent-living units because of the added staff care provided.
Ledom said market studies indicate that about 60 percent of residents will be Catholics but that the community will be open to people of all faiths.
Ledom’s company, DAMCO (Diversified Asset Management Co.), is the property owner, doing business on this project as St. Anthony’s LLC. Ledom’s best-known office-to-residential project in Kansas City was conversion of the former BMA Tower to luxury condominiums at 31st Street and the Southwest Trafficway.
In addition to Catholic Charities, the St. Anthony’s project team includes Engineering Solutions, civil engineers; GastingerWalker and BNB, architects; and American Residential Contractors LLC, project manager.