Development

Armour apartment row is likely to avoid wrecking ball

Vacant buildings in the 100 block of West Armour Boulevard are expected to get city funds to help MAC Properties add to its row of renovated historic apartment buildings in midtown Kansas City.
Vacant buildings in the 100 block of West Armour Boulevard are expected to get city funds to help MAC Properties add to its row of renovated historic apartment buildings in midtown Kansas City. dstafford@kcstar.com

A row of apartment buildings on Armour Boulevard, once planned for demolition, are on a path to be saved by changing market conditions and an infusion of surplus funds from Kansas City’s Midtown Business Interruption Fund.

The city’s planning and zoning committee Wednesday advanced for City Council consideration an ordinance that would direct $840,000 for blight remediation for the boarded-up apartments between Main and Broadway. Authorization is expected to produce the missing financial piece to allow redevelopment to proceed.

The redevelopment plan by MAC Properties, redeveloper of 30 buildings, mostly apartments, along the Armour corridor, earned strong support from the committee and from a historic preservation advocate.

Greg Allen, president of the Historic Kansas City Foundation, applauded the process that guides potential demolition of historic structures. The required three-year waiting period after demolition is requested allowed “time for new solutions to come forward,” he said.

Peter Cassel, a director with MAC Properties, said that since the company sought a demolition permit in 2012, the real estate market has improved along with the ability to get financing. He said rental rates along Armour have risen, the developers have figured out a way to add more low-cost units in the building basements, and access to the Midtown Business Interruption Fund will provide the missing financial piece to make rehabilitation viable.

“We want to start construction work in late spring and have residents in within a year,” Cassel told the committee.

City Council member Katheryn Shields said that “MAC really did listen to the preservation community” and that the buildings are an important part of the Old Hyde Park area.

MAC has owned the four small apartment buildings in the 100 block of West Armour since 2008. Cassel said the company was unable to get financing that year or after a second attempt in 2010. In 2012, it proposed demolition and met furious opposition from preservationists.

On Wednesday, Cassel said hindsight and time proved the preservationists right.

Cassell said a complete budget for the renewal project wasn’t ready, but he expected that a $3 million construction loan, $4 million in owner equity, $860,000 in federal historic tax credits and about $1 million in state credits would figure in. The $840,000 from the Midtown Business Interruption Fund would reduce the overall owner equity in the project, he said.

The Midtown Business Interruption Fund, which supports debt service on the Midtown Super TIF that assisted development of the Costco, Home Depot and SunFresh retail centers, more than pays the required debt service on the successful projects.

Surpluses in the fund beyond two times the annual debt service can be used for other purposes within an area of the city bounded by 25th and 47th streets, State Line Road and Cleveland Avenue. MAC Properties previously has received money from the fund for other redevelopment projects.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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