The street that has represented Kansas City's racial divide is a step closer to getting a $78 million mixed-use development.
The goal, developers say, is to bring reasonably priced workforce housing and density back to midtown Kansas City.
On Tuesday, the City Plan Commission unanimously endorsed a plan to redevelop all four street corners at Armour Boulevard and Troost Avenue and the northwest corner of Cherry Street and Armour with six- and eight-story apartment buildings and retail and restaurant space.
“For so many years Troost was used — the street was used — as a way to divide people," said Peter Cassel, director of community development for Mac Properties, the project's developer.
Cassel said Mac Properties hopes to change that.
“We believe that if we’re able to build development that spans Troost across all four corners, then we have a really exciting opportunity to create a gathering place.”
But the project has some neighbors concerned.
Allan Hallquist, a 37-year Hyde Park resident and president of the neighborhood association, told the commission Hyde Park is already congested with street parking. The new development's parking plan would make that worse, he said.
Mac Properties is planning up to 450 apartments in five buildings and 28,000 square feet of retail space with at least 247 parking spaces. Cassel said studio and one-bedroom apartments would rent for less than $1,000 per month.
Collectively, the project averages one parking space per 1.8 apartments and doesn't provide any additional parking specifically for retail. The building planned for Troost and Cherry will displace an existing surface parking lot.
"We have a problem, that the neighborhood understands, that we have high-rise and medium-rise historic properties along Armour Boulevard that Mac has developed that didn't have parking at the time in the 1920s, that don't have parking now, and it's caused congested streets," Hallquist said.
Hallquist said there's already "wall-to-wall, bumper-to-bumper parking encroaching on driveways" along Locust Street, Cherry Street, Kenwood Avenue, Holmes Street, Charlotte Street, Campbell Street and Harrison Boulevard on either side of Armour because of Mac Properties apartment buildings along the corridor.
Because the planned building at Armour and Cherry will displace a 75-space lot and create a building with up to 110 units and at least 77 spaces, Hallquist argued there would be a shortage of nearly 110 parking spaces at the site.
Angie Splittgerber, a Hyde Park resident and member of the Troost Coalition, said she supported the project and felt she had access to Mac Properties to express her concerns.
"I think with a MAX line on Troost and with the changing nature of transportation in our culture, I think that (the parking ratio) is something that I am personally comfortable with," Splittgerber said.
Matt Nugent, a Squier Park resident and member of the coalition, said the midtown neighborhoods around Troost are "really missing the historical density (they) once had, making it difficult for small businesses to survive in the area.
“So the project brings back two key components that we had lost, which is more neighbors and more businesses."
Cassel said Mac Properties has a portfolio of 1,500 apartments in Kansas City that are generally full despite having two parking spaces for every five apartments.
"We think we're going to add 450 households to this market, and we think the streets and the parking we're providing will absorb that, and we'll continue to have a busy urban environment," Cassel said.
Demand for single-family houses in Hyde Park is also high, Cassel said, so Mac Properties thinks the parking ratio is appropriate.
"It's not that we're denying the parking issue," Cassel said. "It's that we're saying this works."
Tuesday's planning commission vote approved rezoning to allow for the project. Last month, the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority recommended the project get a property tax abatement and a sales tax exemption. Mac Properties is also seeking a grant from the city.
Both the zoning and the incentives need approval by the Kansas City Council. Mac Properties will also have to return to the planning commission to get approval for each building in the development, which is now in a conceptual stage.
Cassel said developers were inspired by the work of the Troost Coalition, an organization representing the Longfellow, Beacon Hill, Center City, Squier Park, Manheim Park and Hyde Park neighborhoods, which sit along the east and west sides of Troost.
In a letter to the planning commission, Nugent urged members to support the project. He said when the neighborhood was working on the Troost "overlay" district to guide development in the area, "people were openly skeptical that development would ever come to Troost.
"The previous half-century hadn’t given anyone any reason to be hopeful," Nugent said in his letter. "The idea that the developer who had performed a miracle in reviving Armour Boulevard would propose a $78M development on the four corners of Armour and Troost would have been unbelievable."