Apartment developer acquires Armour Boulevard building

10/02/2013 10:33 PM

10/02/2013 10:33 PM

The Chicago developer reviving a multiblock swath of historic apartment buildings along Armour Boulevard has purchased a tired 1960s office building at 301 E. Armour Blvd. to provide parking and services to its growing number of tenants.

Peter Cassel, the director of Mac Property Management, said Wednesday that his company plans to complete its purchase of the five-story Gillham Plaza building, which includes a 300-space, three-level garage, by mid-October.

The office building acquisition marks a departure for Mac, which has bought and redeveloped more than a dozen prewar apartment-hotel buildings on Armour between Troost Avenue and Broadway.

But with more than 1,200 residents now living in those buildings and an additional 300 expected by year’s end, Mac Property and its parent firm, New Jersey-based Antheus Capital, believe it’s time to provide more services and parking to the new neighborhood that has been created. Many of the residents are students and young professionals.

“In the long run, Armour needs the retail opportunities that people clamor for,” said Eli Ungar, co-founder of Antheus.

The plan calls for redeveloping 301 E. Armour Blvd. to provide amenities to nearby apartment residents. Besides the additional 300 parking spaces, potential reuses for the office building include a cafe, neighborhood grocery store, business incubator space and studio space for artists and musicians.

Cassel said the 100,000-square-foot building would require extensive renovation. The cost of the project is yet to be determined.

On Tuesday, Mac Properties also had a ceremonial opening for its latest redevelopment project, the historic Bellerive at 214 E. Armour Blvd. The Bellerive was renovated into 150 apartments and is about 50 percent occupied.

The nine-story Bellerive was completed in 1922 and at one time was the location of one of the city’s hottest nightclubs, the El Casbah Club, where Billie Holiday, Harry James and Duke Ellington performed.

The company also is pursuing the redevelopment of two other large prewar apartment buildings — the Newbern, a twin nine-story building at 525 E. Armour Blvd., and the Ambassador, a nine-story building at 3560 Broadway. Mac also recently bought the Richelieu, a smaller 15-unit apartment building at 405-407 E. Armour Blvd.

A plan by Mac Properties to demolish several derelict buildings at 100-118 W. Armour Blvd. and replace them with a 40-unit apartment project was turned down last week by the City Landmark Commission.

Mac originally had wanted to redevelop the smaller apartment building and three duplexes on West Armour as a historic preservation project but determined the cost was prohibitive. The plan to replace them with a new apartment building was opposed by the Old Hyde Park Historic District and Historic Kansas City.

The Landmark Commission turned down the demolition request, saying construction estimates provided were inconclusive in determining that the project was not feasible and no report from a structural engineer or architect in regards to the structural soundness was provided.

The decision will prevent Mac from demolishing the buildings for three years. Ungar said it was too early to decide what might happen next with the West Armour buildings.

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