Curators endorse Hospital Hill housing project for UMKC students

A planned $29.3 million housing project that would serve University of Missouri-Kansas City health care students at Hospital Hill got the green light Thursday to seek development proposals.

The 254-bed, apartment-style development would include a 196-space garage, according to the solicitation approved unanimously by the Missouri Board of Curators at a meeting in Kansas City.

The project has been in the works for more than a year, and the leading potential location is the southeast corner of 24th Street and Troost Avenue in the Beacon Hill area.

That’s where Beacon Hill Developers, a group that includes Zimmer Real Estate, recently won approval for $4.3 million in tax credits from another state agency to build a garage for the proposed student housing development.

The board of curators approved the soliciting of developers in a much broader area around Hospital Hill, but only the Beacon Hill group, which includes Dunn Realty and Taliaferro & Browne Real Estate, has received the tax credits that would be critical to making the project viable. Zimmer officials could not be reached for comment about the curators’ decision to seek proposals.

In December, when Beacon Hill Developers was approved for the tax credits from the Missouri Development Finance Board, city officials praised the decision.

“A student housing project would instill a new confidence in the redevelopment of Beacon Hill and a visual sign of renewed stability,” assistant city attorney Galen Beaufort said at the time.

Beaufort said the proposed student housing development also would boost a plan by Truman Medical Center to build a grocery at 27th Street and Troost.

The board of curators is expected to meet in April to review proposals. Plans call for the development to be completed by July 2014.

University of Missouri officials say they have wanted to provide convenient and secure housing for the 2,900 medical, dental, pharmacy and nursing students at the Hospital Hill campus just southeast of downtown Kansas City.

“The housing and safety for those students always have been a concern of ours,” Nikki Krawitz, vice president of finance for the University of Missouri System, told the curators.

“This would be a great boon to the area of Hospital Hill. It would be on the east side near Troost, and it’s important for the city’s redevelopment of that area.”

The area where development proposals for the project are being sought is from Forest Avenue on the east to Grand Avenue on the west, and from 21st Street to 27th Street, according to the request for proposals approved by the curators.

The request calls for a housing development similar in design to the Oak Place Apartments completed on Oak Street across from the UMKC Volker Campus in 2008.

The developer chosen for the proposed Hospital Hill project would hire the architect and contractor, but the project would be owned by the university.

Most of the financing, $24.8 million, would be debt issued by the university and repaid by revenue from the parking garage and housing.

The remaining $4.5 million would come from state tax credits.