Affordable Apartment Project Proposed for Downtown Riverfront

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Cornerstone Associates wants to build a 60-unit affordable apartment project on the downtown riverfront. (Image from NSPJ architects)

By Kevin Collison

An Omaha developer is proposing a 60-unit apartment project near Berkley Riverfront Park that’s intended to help meet the demand for affordable housing downtown.

Cornerstone Associates, which recently opened the 531 Grand market-rate apartment project in the River Market, is requesting federal tax credits administered by the Missouri Housing Development Commission to help finance the $13 million project.

While the state has suspended its low-income housing tax credit program because of opposition by former Gov. Eric Greitens, the MHDC continues to administer the federal tax credit housing program.

“We’re waiting to hear what the MHDC is going to do,” said Larry Mazzotta, president of Cornerstone. “Now, with the change of governors, it’s a brighter future.”

Mazzotta however, was disappointed by the weak support his proposal received from the mayor’s office in its application for the tax credits.

The mayor’s office routinely writes a letter to the MHDC prioritizing which projects it supports for the assistance.

“We were stunned to find we weren’t in the top four,” the developer said. “The staff people didn’t think it was a good location for affordable housing and doubted our financing. We are completely financed.

“We’re still going after the (federal tax credits, but it’s easier if you make the mayor’s list.”

Jim Giles, the official in the Mayor Sly James office who handles these requests, was contacted last week, but did not respond in time for posting this article.

The Cornerstone project would be located near the Berkley Riverfront Park west of the new Union apartment development. (Image from Cornerstone)

In its development application, Cornerstone said its proposal is supported by PortKC, formerly the Port Authority of Kansas City, and the agency has significantly reduced the purchase price of the 2.2-acre site as an incentive to bring affordable housing downtown.

“As the cost of land and development increases, affordability becomes more of an issue,” the Cornerstone application stated.

“With the influx of market rate apartments downtown, this growth limits the housing options for families and hard working individuals to find safe, attainable housing in the downtown area.

“Many individuals and families with a desire to move into the downtown area have been priced out.”

The Cornerstone development proposal calls for a four-story building with 22 one-bedroom; 31, two-bedroom, and seven,three-bedroom units.

Rents would range from $485- to $785 for one-bedrooms; $570- to $925, two-bedrooms, and $645- to $1,000 for a three-bedroom.

The apartments would be limited to people earning 40- to 60 percent of the area median income.

The project would be located east of the new Bar K dog park and cafe under construction, and west of the partly-opened 451-unit, market-rate Union apartment project developed by Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins.

It would be near the planned extension of the streetcar to Berkley Park. The developer also said the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has agreed to provide a new bus stop within a quarter mile of the project.

Its amenities would include a dining room with serving kitchen, fitness center, club room and library. Mazzotta also said job training and placement services also would be available to residents.

As for when he expects to hear back from the state housing commission:

“I don’t think it will be a long time,” Mazzotta said. “The new Missouri governor supports the program.”

In a related matter, Cornerstone is planning to hold a grand opening for its 531 Grand project on June 20.

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