Another Key Corner Acquired Along Streetcar Extension Route

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The northeast corner of 31st and Main where the 115 year-old Jeserich building is located has been acquired along the streetcar extension route. Preservationists believe incentives are vital to retain historic structures along the route.

By Kevin Collison

Another key corner along the planned Main Street streetcar route at 31st street has been acquired by a developer including the 115 year-old Jeserich building and an adjacent building housing Lufti’s Fried Fish.

An entity controlled by Price Brothers of Overland Park, 31 Main LLC, has bought the half-dozen properties northeast of 31st and Main where a streetcar stop is planned as part of the extension from downtown to UMKC.

The acquisition means developers have now snapped up strategic corners at four of the six streetcar stops between downtown and the Country Club Plaza: 31st, Armour, 39th and 45th streets.

Attempts to reach representatives of Price Brothers were unsuccessful, but the head of the community improvement district that includes the corner, Midtown KC Now, observed it’s another investment spurred by the planned streetcar extension.

“I know they’re interested in the area and like a lot of people are excited what’s coming down the road,” said Kevin Klinkenberg, executive director of the organization.

“It’s another key intersection in Midtown and it’s another streetcar stop with a ton of potential. If Price Brothers could develop a more transit-oriented project that would be fantastic at that corner.”

The fate of the existing buildings at the corner is unknown.

Price Brothers is currently building a 102-unit, co-living residential development at 44th and Belleview called West Plaza Flats. It required the demolition of several bungalows at the site.

In 2016, the firm razed the Green Gables apartment buildings designed in 1927 by the renowned architect Nelle Peters west of the Country Club Plaza over the objections of historic preservationists.

The Price redevelopment plan called for apartments to be built there, but the property on the 4700 block of Summit remains vacant.

The Jesserich building, which opened in 1905 as a corner drug store, does not have local or federal historic designation to protect it from potential demolition.

Major developments are in the works for the future streetcar stops at 31st, Armour, 39th Street and 45th Street. (Map from FTA)

It is among the buildings in the “Main Street Corridor” category included by Historic Kansas City on its 2019 Most Endangered List.

The organization is concerned the future of some of the street’s original structures may be threatened by development spurred by the streetcar.

“New development proposed for Main Street, calling for the demolition of historic buildings, is inconsistent with the historic nature of the area,” according to Historic KC.

“All new projects should be designed and developed in a manner that maintains and strengthens the historic character of the Corridor.”

The property at 31st and Main is across the street from another large parcel along the streetcar route that’s hit the market, a 5.4-acre site that includes the former Conklin Fangman car dealership at 3200 Main.

Other recent investments along the Main Street corridor include a large property at the southwest corner of Armour and Main acquired by Chicago-based Mac Properties. The firm is planning a mixed-use development with potentially 300 apartments.

Lux Living, a St. Louis developer, has plans to develop a 192-unit apartment project at Westport Road and Main that would preserve and incorporate the historic Katz Drug Store.

An entity listing the same address as Financial Holding Corp., a business controlled by the Merriman family, has purchased the former Holiday Inn at 45th and Main and is demolishing it to make way for an anticipated residential project.

And Exact Partners recently completed the renovation of the historic Netherland Hotel and Monarch Storage buildings at 38th and Main into 144 apartments. Exact also has purchased buildings at the corners of Linwood and 39th street, 3215 Main and 3901 Main.

The planned extension of the streetcar kicked off the year with a $174 million federal grant. Combined with revenues that will be generated by a local Transportation Development District, the project now has all its funding lined up.

Preliminary utility work already is underway on Main. The streetcar extension is currently scheduled to be operational by early 2025, although officials hope that timetable might be accelerated for a possible late 2024 opening.

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