Ted Sleder, managing partner with Brickstone Capital Development in Leawood, moved to Kansas City about eight years ago and soon learned about the socioeconomic dividing line at Troost Avenue.
So he insisted on driving his wife to a volunteer meeting at 31st and Troost. On the way, he saw 911 Linwood, a hulking white brick building ravaged by time. But he liked it.
Sleder, 63, had extensive development experience throughout the Midwest and already had bought a 48-unit apartment building in Kansas City with no public subsidies. But the six-story building on Linwood Boulevard, vacant since the mid-1980s, was a bigger deal that had stymied previous redevelopers.
“I bought it,” Sleder told the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority board on Thursday. “My goal was to do a good deed before I die, to do something for the community.”
That deed, he told the board, would be a $12.1 million total overhaul of the structurally sound building. He aims to turn it into a 95-unit apartment building ready for occupancy by December 2017. And he wants to blast the white paint off the exterior brick.
Rents, he said, would be market rate but “affordable,” ranging from $500 to $600 a month for studios and up to about $1,000 for two-bedroom units.
The board endorsed his plan and authorized an 88 percent property tax abatement for 18 years.
“This is an outstanding project to take on, given how long it’s been vacant,” said board member Bonnie Sue Cooper.
Angie Splittgerber, with the nearby Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, said neighbors were “really excited about market-rate apartments” but wanted to make sure that other concerns were met concerning landscaping and parking.
Sleder and his development attorney, Charles Renner, assured her that the neighbors would have a voice.
Sleder’s plan calls for 43 studios, 23 one-bedrooms, 28 two-bedrooms and one three-bedroom apartment. The layout, he said, is partly determined by historic preservation standards that require that certain spaces be kept intact. The building has qualified for the National Register of Historic Places and is eligible for historic tax credits.
The 105,000-square-foot building, built in 1912, once was a high-class hotel. As a hotel, it went by both the Belmont and Lucerne names. After falling on harder times, it was a nursing home and a Veterans Administration center.
Sleder said he obtained financing through UC Funds in Boston, but the deal required tax abatement to work.
“Every bank in KC is unwilling to take the risk on it,” he told the board. “The local banks say they don’t redline but that the area isn’t proven yet.”
The project requires rezoning, which will cost $3,400, Sleder said. He is working with Columbia Construction and Treanor Architects on the project.