Plans for a $75 million development featuring apartments, a boutique hotel and greenspace on top of a parking garage in Westport got a big thumbs-up Tuesday from the City Plan Commission, a Kansas City citizens advisory group.
The City Council is expected to consider the project, called West Port Terrace and Manor Square, in July.
In recent months, several Westport proposals have prompted fierce debates, including a request to privatize parts of some streets in the popular bar and restaurant district. But the Manor Square project attracted only one note of concern in testimony at Tuesday’s Plan Commission meeting, where the development received unanimous support from the commissioners.
“We have a need to grow the population in our city,” Plan Commission member Margaret May said. “This really seems like a good project.”
The mixed-use project covers a 4-acre site bordered by Westport Road on the south, Mill Street (Sun Fresh Market) on the west, a commercial parking lot and structure on the north and Pennsylvania Avenue on the east. It includes the existing Manor Square building and parking garage but does not include Kelly’s Westport Inn.
It calls for 215 apartments and a 120-room hotel, plus 12,100 square feet of restaurant space; 24,150 square feet of retail space; and 11,500 square feet of office space. The Tivoli Cinemas would remain and have its own dedicated entry.
Buildings currently on the site remain but exterior walls and facade will be modified, and the Char Bar, 4050 Pennsylvania, will remain. The roof of a 700-space parking garage will have grass and plantings on about three-quarters of an acre to create a parklike courtyard setting.
Chris Cole, chief development officer of Action Pact LLC, the designer and partner on the project, said the developer met eight times since the beginning of this year with the various neighborhood groups and interested parties, and that negotiation helped improve the design. He said the design originally included some very contemporary elements, but the neighbors wanted an all brick exterior more in line with Westport’s character, and that preference carried the day.
“We’re all working in concert with each other to make sure we get the very best outcome,” Cole told the commission.
Pulse Development is the owner and both Pulse and Action Pact have offices in Westport.
The city planning staff did require several conditions for plan approval, including some changes to the building appearance, and those are in process.
Still, Kansas City resident Patti Meier, who lives just north of Westport on West 39th Terrace, worried about the development’s size and scope.
She said nearby residential areas have narrow streets, which frequently fill up with traffic and parked cars when Westport is teeming with crowds.
“We have wall-to-wall parking now,” she said.
Cole was sympathetic to her concern but said it’s not his development that’s the problem.
He pointed out that the hotel and apartments are expected to need fewer than 500 parking spaces, so the parking garage will still have 200 surplus spaces available for the public.
However, he agreed Westport needs a comprehensive parking strategy.
The developer will work with city planning staff on design changes required in the staff report. If those go quickly, the City Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee could take up the proposal July 12.
Cole said he hopes construction can begin late this year or early next year and be completed about 18 months after that.