By Kevin Collison
The redevelopment of the historic Aines Dairy building at 3130 Gillham Rd. into 50 lofts with a potential grocer at street level is underway and the developer anticipates an opening next summer.
Exact Partners began pursuing the $12 million project in spring 2021 and it received a chilly reception when its request to be designated a blighted property was first presented to the board of the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority (LCRA).
“We did some tours and provided additional photos,” said Caleb Buland of Exact.
“Once the board saw the condition of the streets, curbs and the homeless population, we got a lot more support. It’s been vacant for a decade.”
The LCRA ultimately approved the blight designation and then a 10-year, 100 percent property tax abatement to help finance the project. The developer also was successful obtaining state historic tax credits for the plan.
The former dairy plant at 3110-30 Gillham Rd. opened in 1946 and at one time produced 100,000 gallons of milk products daily. It later became a meat production facility for the Winsted restaurant chain before closing.
Interior demolition is underway at the Aines Dairy project and Buland anticipates beginning construction in about two months.
The plan calls for 50 lofts in a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Since the building is historic, it is not required to meet the City Council’s 20 percent affordable housing set-aside policy.
Buland said the rents will be affordable to people making up to 60- to 70 percent of area median income (AMI). The Kansas City AMI for a one-person household is about $60,000 and $69,000 for two people.
The first level will have about 4,000 square-feet of retail space and the developer would like to locate a grocer there. The project also will have 50 parking spaces.
The building is located just south of the El Torreon ballroom building and across Gillham Road from several antique shops and Brewer’s Kitchen.
“The area has cool potential but there’s an entire block vacant between the old ballroom and the Aines building,” Buland said. “Adding 120 residents to the neighborhood along with 30 jobs will start making a difference.”
Exact also redeveloped the nearby historic Acme building at 3200 Gillham into apartments and space for the KC Artists Coalition, and has made major investments a few blocks away on Troost Avenue including renovating the old Wonder Bread bakery into a residential and retail project.
The developer said the Aines Dairy plan calls for improved streetscaping. The city also is investing in an improvement plan for 31st street. The goal is to create a pedestrian-oriented corridor linking Martini Corner, the Gillham Road district and Troost.
Buland also hopes the renovation of the Aines Dairy building will spur other nearby landlords to do a better job of maintaining their properties.
“There are still a couple users in the neighborhood who let trash collect on their property and don’t take care of it,” he said. “We hope they see our renovation and follow suit.”
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