An award-winning Kansas City firm known for its restorations of historic buildings has purchased several structures of Lee’s Summit’s Longview Farm.
Soon, long-awaited stabilization and restoration work will start on remnants of the show farm built by Kansas City lumber tycoon R.A. Long. The buildings feature ornate stucco siding with red-tile roofs.
The mansion was the home of Loula Long Combs, a renowned horsewoman who competed regionally, in New York and internationally.
Corey Walker, of Mariner Real Estate Management, and Mark Moberly, of Sunflower Development Group, recently gave the Lee’s Summit City Council an update on the status of the historic buildings and new development.
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The city and developers are using tax-increment financing to cover the costs of stabilization and rehabilitation, an expected $20 million project.
The city is making a loan of about $3 million for interim repairs, which is to eventually be repaid by the TIF. Private investment in housing and commercial projects in remaining parts of New Longview is expected to be about $80 million.
Following approval of that agreement, the developers had engineers inspect the buildings and make plans for repairs and rehabilitation.
The city is reviewing those plans.
Sunflower Development Group is known for restorations of several downtown Kansas City hotels and conversions of schools for housing or other commercial purposes.
Mark Moberly, of Sunflower Development Group, said the company had purchased the barns and a farm house, the dairy manger house, and in the next months will close on Longview Mansion.
The farm’s show arena and barn already had been restored for use as Longview Elementary School, financed by the school district.
The company will begin work on structures this summer.
“We’re to the point where we’re finally ready to swing a few hammers in stabilizing products,” Moberly said. “Those are small steps, but I know people will be excited to see work out there.”
The lake and pergola at Longview and the north arch will be rehabilitated, with ownership of the pergola and lake staying with the homeowners association and with the arch ownership remaining with a foundation, Moberly said. Those organizations will be responsible for the future maintenance of the structures.
Moberly said full rehabilitation of the mansion, used as a wedding and event space, will take 12 to 18 months, but the facility will remain open during the renovations. He said the company already owns a wedding event space, so it is sensitive to the needs of clients who have already booked an event at the mansion and will work to keep from disrupting their plans.
The barns and farm houses will have roof repairs and windows closed to prevent further deterioration until the TIF district is producing revenue to help with full restoration.
Moberly said Sunflower would get private financing for the restorations, but that projected revenue from tenants wouldn’t be enough to pay for the initial rehabilitation.
“There’s a gap that would be filled by the TIF and by using historic preservation tax credits,” he said. He said the timeline is uncertain because it depends on other commercial projects in the TIF, like a new theater.
The company keeps ownership of buildings it restores and leases them to tenants.
He said that since it became a partner in the project with Mariner Real Estate Management, Sunflower has gotten a wide variety of tenants for the barns, from architectural firms to a small brewery and distillery. Because of their unique nature, it’s a little more difficult to re-adapt the structures for use, compared to a former school or hotel, he said.
Walker said that development of commercial projects continue to make progress.
The Goddard School is open, and the new B&B Theater is to begin construction this summer and is creating interest by other businesses, Walker said.
Autumn Leaves Memory Care is under construction, with framing of its building nearing completion, and construction of senior housing is to begin as well, he said.
Nearby, the foundations of the first homes in Kessler Ridge, another subdivision in New Longview, have been poured.
Mark Dunning, assistant city manager, said the city and developers took time to inspect, plan and design the stabilization work so it wouldn’t conflict with future restorations and have to be torn out.
“You don’t want to over-invest and redo it,” he said.
Scott Coryell, a member of the Longview Alliance that was formed to promote preservation of the historic buildings, said the group continues to work with Mariner, Sunflower and Inspired Homes (the builder in Kessler Ridge) on the future plans for New Longview.
“We are pleased that everything is progressing in line with the plan passed by the (City) Council and supported by the Longview Alliance,” Coryell said. “We think this is going to be an exciting year for New Longview and look forward to seeing the progress.”