Bill Haw, champion of all things West Bottoms, is beginning work on the first new residential development in that area in many years, a $5 million apartment building at 1515 Genessee St.
The three-story project, called Stockyards Place, includes commercial space on the first level and 11 apartments. The development was originally approved for a 25-year property tax abatement in 2010.
“The reason it took so long was the deal didn’t feel right, the overall environment wasn’t ready,” Haw said. “I’m intuitive, and right now I’m loving it.”
Haw has been deeply involved in the West Bottoms, the former epicenter of Kansas City’s livestock and meatpacking industry, since at least 1991 when he bought and revived the landmark Livestock Exchange Building on Genessee Street.
Since the Stockyards Place project first was approved for tax incentives, Haw has restored other buildings on Genessee including the historic Telegram Building at 1505 Genessee and the Genessee Royale Bistro, a former gas station at 1531 Genessee.
The apartment project, on what’s now a parking lot between the Telegram Building and the Genessee Royale, is probably the first new residential construction in the West Bottoms since the turn of the 20th century.
But as opposed to the immigrant quarters built then for workers attracted by the meat industry, this new luxury project will be geared toward urban pioneers willing to venture into an area that’s still a work in progress.
The apartment project is near the Livestock Exchange Building, Kemper Arena and the headquarters of Butler Manufacturing, but it’s not far from warehouses, parking lots and the hodge-podge of rundown historic buildings that are the heart of the West Bottoms.
But the area, the site of last weekend’s successful Boulevardia festival, has become increasingly vibrant.
The cluster of old buildings, previously known for its popular haunted house attractions, is finding new life as the hub of an antique and flea market scene, and it remains popular with artists.
Haw said the Livestock Exchange Building — once one of the largest office buildings in Kansas City — is 92 percent occupied. The smaller Telegram Building, which houses a major art gallery, professional offices and a winery, is 100 percent full.
The apartments will be a mix of one- and two-level units and come in a variety of sizes including 822-square-foot studios, 1,200-square-foot one-bedrooms, 2,200-square-foot two-bedrooms and a single 3,000-square-foot three-bedroom.
All will have balconies with custom metal grills designed by Asheer Akram, a Pakistani artist whose work includes a stylized Pakistani “jingle truck” displayed last year outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
The architects are George Lafferty and KEM Studio. Centric Projects is the contractor. Completion is expected next year.
There is one other apartment project in the works for the West Bottoms, but the project planned by the Reeder Family Trust calls for renovating three older buildings into a 251-unit development. The largest is a nine-story former grocery distribution building at 933 Mulberry St.