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One Light topped out as Two Light moves forward in Kansas City

Mark Humphreys (left), CEO of Humphreys & Partners Architects, talked with William Dunn Sr. of J.E. Dunn Construction on Wednesday during the “topping out” ceremony at the One Light apartment tower at 13th and Walnut streets.
Mark Humphreys (left), CEO of Humphreys & Partners Architects, talked with William Dunn Sr. of J.E. Dunn Construction on Wednesday during the “topping out” ceremony at the One Light apartment tower at 13th and Walnut streets. along@kcstar.com

Kansas City’s downtown skyline got a tower-topping tree Wednesday morning when city officials gathered at 13th and Walnut streets to celebrate construction of the 25-story One Light apartment building.

The $80 million luxury residential tower, a project of the Cordish Companies, is expected to begin accepting tenants this fall in the 315-unit building.

One Light represents downtown’s first new high-rise built since the H&R Block headquarters opened in 2006. And it’s the first new residential tower built near downtown since the 32-story San Francisco Tower opened in 1976 at Crown Center.

“This shows the trend in metropolitan housing. The future of apartment development is in urban settings,” said Sean O’Byrne, vice president-business development at the Downtown Council. “We have 21,000 residents in the downtown area now and have the expectation for 40,000 residents. The demand is there.”

O’Byrne said Kansas City’s downtown core is “running out of historic structure inventory to repurpose as residential. Every downtown parking lot is a development site waiting to happen.”

Meanwhile, preparation continues for Two Light, Cordish’s 24-story, 300-unit apartment building and parking garage planned for Walnut and Truman Road. Construction on that $105 million project is expected to start next year, with occupancy planned for 2018.

Despite increased demand for high-quality downtown housing, Cordish required public subsidies to make the projects financially feasible. About 5,000 new residential units are under construction in the downtown area.

Both Cordish properties are being built with property tax abatements for the towers and additional subsidies for the garages, as are many other new-construction and adaptive reuse projects in the city’s core.

The city committed about $8 million for the One Light apartments, plus $12 million to $14 million for the One Light garage. The tower is getting a 25-year, 50 percent property tax abatement.

The public commitment announced so far for the Two Light project is for about $17 million.

Cordish, developer of the Power & Light entertainment district, has shown a long-range plan calling for a total of four apartment towers, but only the first two are in the works.

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