Kansas City’s downtown housing boom is getting another boost with two new apartment projects planned inside the central business district’s freeway loop.
The City Council on Thursday approved final tweaks for a 5.25-acre, five-building apartment complex that will add 252 market-rate rental units on the southwest side of downtown.
Construction is scheduled to begin in March on that project along with a companion 138-unit apartment building nearby on Quality Hill.
Planners expect there will be no trouble filling the projects.
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“People are moving in whenever somebody leaves,” Tommy Wilson, urban planner at the Downtown Council, said of downtown’s housing market.
The five-building complex, called Summit on Quality Hill, will be highly visible from Interstate 35 where it loops past the southwest corner of the downtown loop. The property’s edges generally are Interstate 35 on the west, 12th Street on the north, Washington Street on the east and 13th Street on the south. The multiblock site straddles Pennsylvania Avenue and Jefferson Street west of Bartle Hall.
The other project, to be built on the bluff immediately south of Case Park, is called Apex at Quality Hill.
Together, the developments by Cityscape Residential of Indianapolis will add 390 units to a hot downtown housing market that is running at a 97 percent occupancy rate, according to Downtown Council data.
Wilson said the Downtown Council now counts about 8,530 rental and condominum units and an estimated population of nearly 21,200 in the area bounded by the Missouri River and Union Hill, the state line and Bruce R. Watkins Drive.
Wilson said the council counts 1,391 more units under construction and 2,278 planned or announced.
Planned projects include new construction such as Cityscape’s two new projects as well as renovation of historic properties such as the Pickwick complex on a city block northeast of 10th and McGee streets in the northeast part of downtown.
The Summit on Quality Hill complex, whose site is almost entirely vacant land now except for a small surface parking lot, requires no demolition. It will become a collection of five four-story brick and stucco apartment buildings designed with exterior balconies, underground parking and some adjacent street parking.
The smaller Apex at Quality Hill, with its 138 rental units, will sit across from the existing HNTB offices. Developer James E. Thomas Jr. with Cityscape said the building would provide an overlook of the West Bottoms from atop the hill.
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Thomas said rents are expected to be in the “market rate” range of $1,100 to $1,200 a month for one-bedroom units and $1,400 to $1,900 a month for two-bedroom units.
According to Downtown Council estimates, about 2,675 of downtown’s rental units now could be described as “market rate” housing. About 3,000 units are condominiums and about 2,850 are income-restricted rentals, Wilson said.
Thomas said he was able to move forward on the Summit multi-unit complex because of a 25-year property abatement on the value of the new construction. The owners pay existing property taxes on the current property but get 100 percent abatement on the development’s added value for the first 10 years and 50 percent abatement on years 11 to 25.
According to city rules about residential development, the developer also must contribute nearly $50,000 related to the Summit project for parkland use. City officials indicated that the funds are likely to be used for West Terrace Park.
Thomas also has introduced plans for a third downtown area apartment project, Crossroads West, a six-story building southeast of Southwest Boulevard and Interstate 35. That site requires demolition of a vacant Jones Store warehouse.
His company’s work here includes development of the Prairiefire apartments in Overland Park.