Developer appealing West Armour apartment decision

01/06/2014 4:00 PM

01/06/2014 6:27 PM

A Chicago developer is appealing a decision last fall by the City Historic Preservation Commission that prevented the firm from building a 40-unit apartment building on West Armour Boulevard in midtown Kansas City.

Mac Property Management is asking the Board of Zoning Adjustment to allow the demolition of several historic, dilapidated buildings at 100-118 W. Armour Blvd. Mac says it’s not financially viable to renovate the buildings and instead wants to replace them with a new apartment building without city incentives.

Mac Property’s proposal to raze the West Armour buildings was rejected by the preservation commission last September. Peter Cassel, an official at Mac Property, said the zoning board is being asked to reconsider the matter based on the argument it would not be financially viable to renovate the buildings.

“We’re going back to the BZA with the narrow question of ‘Is this an economic hardship?’ ” Cassel said Monday. “If you review the preservation commission transcript, they did not decide that issue. They decided they didn’t want the buildings torn down.”

The Old Hyde Park Historic District, however, strongly opposes their demolition and supported the preservation commission. The buildings are a smaller apartment building and three duplexes designed in 1903 by Kansas City architect John W. McKecknie. They are currently vacant.

Although Mac Property has redeveloped more than two dozen larger former apartment-hotel buildings nearby on Armour into hundreds of new apartments, the firm said the cost of renovating the smaller structures was prohibitive.

Martin Phillips, president of the Old Hyde Park district, said his neighborhood organization thinks that Mac Property has allowed the West Armour buildings to deteriorate since buying them four years ago and that they should be renovated.

“If you allow a developer to sit on a property and not keep them up, and then tear them down, this would set a precedent for the city, not just our neighborhood,” Phillips said. “Mac has done a lot of good things for the area. We’re simply asking them to do the other four buildings.

“A new building would rip the historic fabric apart at the entry to our neighborhood.”

The zoning board hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 14 at City Hall. Should the agency overturn the historic preservation commission’s decision, Mac Property still would have to return to the preservation agency for approval of its design for the new building.

Kansas City Councilman Jim Glover, whose district includes the West Armour location, praised Mac Property’s record and expertise at historic preservation.

“The reality is, even when they bought the West Armour buildings, they were in bad shape,” Glover said. “They tried to finance it, and they couldn’t. We need to move on.”

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