Two downtown apartment projects in the works

12/31/2013 12:34 AM

12/31/2013 12:34 AM

The old year is closing out with two new apartment projects announced for downtown Kansas City — the redevelopment of the historic Argyle Building into 124 units, and the former Maxwell Briscoe Garage into a half-dozen units.

The $20 million renovation of the 10-story Argyle Building at 12th and McGee streets has been in the works for more than a year. Developer Jim Wiss of Arghom LLC completed his purchase of the building Monday and plans to begin renovating it as a market-rate apartment project by early summer.

Earlier this month, the Kansas City Council approved a deal that will allow Wiss to lease 150 parking spaces in the adjoining Wolf Garage to serve the Argyle tenants. Wiss plans to build a skywalk linking the garage to the building.

The building was designed by renowned Kansas City architect Louis S. Curtiss and originally opened as an office building in 1905. It had been vacant for more than 15 years, and Arghom LLC bought the property from Citizens Bank.

Wiss is the latest of several developers to pursue the Argyle in the past decade. Several years ago, a 25-year property tax abatement was approved by the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority.

The Arghom redevelopment calls for most of the 124 units to be one bedroom with monthly rents ranging from $800 to $1,200. The project is expected to be ready for occupancy by late 2015. The architect is Rosemann & Associates.

“It’s a great historic site,” Wiss said. “We’re very upbeat on downtown Kansas City. It’s really coming to life, and a lot of good things are happening.”

In a separate development, a group led by Kelley Hrabe plans to renovate a dilapidated, three-story building at 1612 Grand Blvd. into six luxury loft apartments and 4,700 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

Work on that $4.5 million project already is underway, and the completion date is around August 2014. The architect is Clockwork Architecture and Design.

Hrabe plans to move his company, Prairie Fire Development Group, to the building, which opened in the 1920s as the Maxwell Briscoe Garage, a showroom for the now-defunct Maxwell automobile. The MGB Lofts project will include 11 off-street parking spaces and 12 underground spaces.

Like the Argyle Building, developers have tried to redevelop 1612 Grand for more than 10 years. The project also is eligible for a property tax abatement, but Hrabe plans to use only state and historic tax credits to help finance the renovation.

“It would be great to have an abatement, but it’s not necessary,” he said. “We think downtown is in resurgence, and an incentive handout is not needed.”

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