Despite fires, 300-unit Crossroads apartment development will soon break ground

Looking from the southwest corner of the project at Main Street and 20th Street, an architectural rendering shows the coming City Club Apartments Crossroads.
Looking from the southwest corner of the project at Main Street and 20th Street, an architectural rendering shows the coming City Club Apartments Crossroads.

A mixed-use development for an underutilized Crossroads intersection where Hereford House once stood was first announced about a year and a half ago.

This week a spokesman for the Michigan-based City Club Apartments said construction on an 280-unit apartment and mixed use building on Main Street, just south of a Kansas City Streetcar stop, will likely begin in June.

Developers plan to revamp nearly the entire block bounded by Main, Walnut, 19th and 20th streets. The development is expected to put a new restaurant on the same spot where Hereford House burned down nearly 10 years ago and convert the historic but vacant Midwest Hotel into apartments.

City Club Apartments spokesman Mark Winter said crews broke ground on the company's project in Detroit in January and expects to move tenants in by the end of the year. If the Crossroads development follows a similar time line, hopeful residents could expect to move in next summer.

The announcement this week is welcome news for Crossroads neighbors. They have endured a recent spate of fires at the site, particularly in the Midwest Hotel.

"Those are big buildings, and every time they catch on fire, the fire department shuts off Main Street and it’s a big ordeal to secure the buildings again," said Crossroads Community Association board member David Johnson. "So we’re very, very, very much looking forward to the project getting underway.”

City Club Apartments co-founder and CEO Jonathan Holtzman said in a statement that contractors had repeatedly boarded up the building to protect it from trespassing.

"Trespassers continue to break into the buildings, especially when it is cold," Holtzman said. "We will continue to do the things we are doing to secure the site. We ask for the continued support and vigilance of the building department and police and fire departments to actively remove those individuals trespassing on our private property so that we can maintain a safe pre-development site and protect our historic hotel building.”

John Baccala, a public information officer for Kansas City's neighborhoods and housing services department, said the latest fire at the Midwest Hotel occurred Tuesday. He said the fire department had not yet issued a report, but it was likely started by a homeless person trying to keep warm.

“What we’ve seen at that particular property is vagrants and squatters and homeless who have gone in there and started fires,” Baccala said.

City officials also received a report last month that homeless people were living in a building a couple doors north of the abandoned hotel, also owned by developers.

The Midwest Hotel faces Main Street just north of a vacant lot where Hereford House used to stand at Main Street and 20th Street before it was destroyed in a 2008 fire. The City Club development is expected to build a six-story building on the block and revamp the five-story hotel.

Johnson said having a development at that intersection was a good step forward for the neighborhood. The development will sit just south of a Streetcar stop at Main Street and 19th Street, making it a prime spot for downtown dwellers.

“Of course being on the streetcar line there will be a big draw from that," Johnson said.

With demand for Crossroads apartments exceeding supply, Johnson said, the City Club building will be a welcome addition.

"We’re seeing rents increase because of the demand," Johnson said.