Residential development planned for south of Crown Center

Hallmark Cards is planning to sell 5 acres just next to its Kansas City headquarters. The land will become a residential development.
Hallmark Cards is planning to sell 5 acres just next to its Kansas City headquarters. The land will become a residential development. KansasCity

An array of apartments, condominiums and town homes is planned to fill what’s now a parking lot between Crown Center and Union Hill.

Hallmark Cards Inc. said Thursday it intends to sell about 5 acres immediately south of its Kansas City headquarters to Milhaus, an Indianapolis-based developer.

Milhaus will provide development heft to UC-B Properties, a Kansas City company headed by John Hoffman, who has completed several residential renewal projects including a development at 29th Street and Gillham Road.

Hoffman said he started about two years ago to envision a largely residential complex on the Hallmark property. The land lies on either side of McGee between 27th Street on the north, 27th Terrace on the south and Gillham on the east.

Milhaus will have an option to buy another 3.7 acres immediately south of the initial 5 acres, according to Bill Lucas, Hallmark executive vice president of real estate, who heads the company’s Crown Center Redevelopment subsidiary.

Terms of the land sale were not revealed.

“This would be our biggest project to date,” Hoffman said. “We looked for a partner like Milhaus that understands what we want to do and has the financial backing we needed.”

The property would be redeveloped into about 425 residential units and some commercial space. Hoffman said preliminary plans call for about 350 rental units in a five-story apartment building, some three- or four-story condominiums, and some townhouses in addition to a 400-car garage.

HOK Kansas City will be the master planner and design architect for the project, contingent on Milhaus obtaining the necessary zoning, planning and other approvals from the Kansas City City Council.

The development team is asking for property tax abatement through the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority’s existing Union Hill Chapter 353 redevelopment designation. If approved, plans call for construction to begin by mid-2016.

Hoffman said he hopes the apartments, first to be completed, will be available for rent within a year and a half.

Lucas said Hallmark believes Milhaus and UC-B Properties will develop the site “consistent with the vision of Crown Center’s own development plan.”

Crown Center is Hallmark’s multiuse project that includes offices, residences, hotels, shops and entertainment destinations adjacent to the company’s headquarters.

Hallmark spokeswoman Julie Elliott said the company always was interested in developing the site, “but this was an interested buyer who shared our vision and was interested in moving forward on the project now.”

The project will require demolition of one small building on the site.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford