A vacant five-story brick warehouse at 1509 Walnut — one of very few unrenovated properties nearby — is slated to become a “boutique” apartment building on a prominent site just south of Kansas City’s downtown loop.
Owners want to transform the former Berlau Paper Co. building into 20 luxury rental units under a proposal presented Thursday to the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority.
The agency approved a 10-year, 100 percent property tax abatement and a 50 percent abatement for the next 10 years for the $7.2 million project. The developers also agreed to a 3 percent-a-year increase in property tax payments in the third through 10th years.
The ownership group of Jeff Krum, Jason Swords and Jay Tomlinson also is applying for $1.25 million in historic tax credits. The owners said they will put about $1 million of equity into the project.
Plans call for converting the 32,000-square-foot building into one- and two-bedroom apartments that will rent for an estimated $1,300 to more than $3,500 a month.
Krum said the hefty rates will reflect the comparatively large-size floor plans, the luxury-level finishes, the boutique nature of the building and the addition of an adjacent parking structure for residents.
“We’re pushing the upper end of the envelope,” Krum said of the price range. “We’re aiming to provide the largest units available downtown for people who don’t want to downsize.”
The design includes an adjoining two-level parking facility with 24 spaces. The lack of available parking space around the building has kept the Berlau building from being redeveloped to date, the planners said, and partly explains the need for public support to subsidize the parking deck.
The parking deck will separate the Berlau apartments from a three-story building previously renovated by Tomlinson, who lives on the top floor. Helix Architecture + Design, where Tomlinson is a principal, is the Berlau project architect and has its offices nearby on Walnut.
The design calls for restoration of the Berlau building’s facade on Walnut and addition of balconies on the south side, overlooking the new parking deck.
Planners said it is unfortunate that fire codes involving the historic structure prevent the renovation from adding windows or balconies on the north side of the building — the side that would have a view of the downtown skyline.
The ownership group intends to provide street-level retail space on the first floor, with the apartments on floors two through five.
The group aims to start work on the project in December and be ready for tenants in about a year and a half, pending successful completion of the historic tax credit applications and the permitting process at City Hall.