Three downtown projects win approval

Downtown Kansas City scored a triple play Thursday when two apartment projects totaling more than 300 units won incentives necessary to begin work and a plan to double the size of the Crossroads Academy charter school was approved.

The larger of the two apartment proposals is the biggest residential project to date in the West Bottoms area, a 251-unit redevelopment that includes a historic building at 933 Mulberry St. The smaller project is a new 56-unit building in the River Market area.

The Planned Industrial Expansion Authority granted the Reeder Family Trust a 15-year abatement for its project called The View at the West Bottom II.

The $30 million redevelopment plan calls for renovating the nine-story building on Mulberry Street into 189 apartments and two nearby smaller buildings at 1200 and 1218 Union St. into 62 apartments. The abatement is for 95 percent of the new value for 10 years and 50 percent for five.

Bob Mayer, a consultant on the Reeder project, described the apartments as being designed to be a living and work space for artists in the West Bottoms. The old industrial area that once was the site of the Kansas City stockyards has quietly become a district for artists, antique shops and other eclectic businesses.

“This is by far the largest apartment project to date in the West Bottoms,” he said.

The major building to be redeveloped is the former Ridenour-Baker Grocer Co., a concrete tower at 933 Mulberry St. that once provided groceries to small stores throughout the city. The original structure was built in 1908, but additions continued until 1938.

Mayer said the $25 million first phase calls for renovating the Ridenour-Baker building into 54 one-bedroom apartments with monthly rents ranging from $800 to $900 and the two-bedroom units from $1,000 to $1,500.

Work is expected to begin in June and be completed in about a year. The architect is B&A Architecture of Kansas City.

The Reeder Family Trust is the development entity of Wayne Reeder. In 2004, Reeder renovated the derelict former Vista Del Rio building at 600 Admiral Blvd. into a condo project called The View. He also is redeveloping the old Trinity Lutheran Hospital complex at 31st and Baltimore streets into the Park Reserve residential development.

Mayer said the West Bottoms development also has been approved for $12.7 million in federal and state historic tax credits.

The River Market development, called Centropolis on Grand, received a 14-year property tax abatement from the agency. That $8.5 million project is being built by KC Commercial Realty Group at Fifth and Grand Boulevard. Work is expected to begin in late May on the five-story building and be completed in 10 to 12 months.

The first 10 years of the abatement is for 95 percent of the new value of the property, and the remaining four years will be for 50 percent.

The Centropolis project is on the planned downtown streetcar route. It calls for 52 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units. Rents will range from $1,000 to $1,150 for a one-bedroom unit, and $1,650 for a two-bedroom unit. The architect is NSPJ Architects of Prairie Village.

The project is named after a historic hotel that once occupied the intersection from 1880 to 1940. Centropolis was a phrase coined in 1859 by Maj. William Gilpin to refer to Kansas City and its proximity to the center of the country.

The expansion plan for the Crossroads Academy was approved unanimously by the Kansas City Council at its regular session. Tax increment financing assistance of $5.5 million was granted to help the charter school at 1015 Central St. acquire the building next door at 1009 Central St.

The school opened two years ago and enrolls 230 students, kindergarten through sixth grade. The expansion will allow it to grow to include middle school students.

The entire investment will be $7 million. That will allow the Crossroads Academy to acquire its current building, which was leased, as well as the Uhlmann Building next door. By this fall, the school hopes to have 270 students enrolled.

Mayor Sly James and council members Ed Ford, Jan Marcason and Jim Glover described the school as a huge asset for downtown residents.

“It really is fulfilling our dreams for downtown,” Marcason said.

Dean Johnson, co-founder of Crossroads Academy and its executive director, praised the council for approving the plan.

“In early 2012, when the school existed only on paper, families committed themselves to this re-imagining of urban education premised on outstanding teachers, parental involvement and a dynamic downtown setting,” he said.

“Today is a marvelous validation of their commitment to this mission.”