By Kevin Collison
It was only a few years ago that apartment developers in downtown Kansas City dreamed of getting $1.50 per square foot in rent.
Last week at the groundbreaking for the ARTerra project, developer Jon Copaken said its units will go for $2.30 per square foot, the same rate as Two Light, the new Cordish project underway that just topped out at 24 stories.
Downtown Kansas City may still be far from Chicago, LA or New York when it comes to rents, but the days when it was a huge bargain, at least at newer apartment projects downtown and elsewhere, are gone.
And Copaken believes the demand will be strong when ARTerra opens in 18 months.
“There are a lot of apartments being built,” Copaken said, “but everything being built has filled.
“The general apartment climate is the trend is still towards urban and density, and people want to live here in the Crossroads. People like the arts district, the galleries and the restaurants.”
It also helps that at 12 stories, ARTerra will stand tall in the Crossroads District. It’s the first new high-rise to go up in the historic area of big brick industrial buildings, most of which have been converted to residential use over the past 15 years.
“It will have unparalleled views of downtown and easy access,” Copaken said. “It’s an innovative design that will stand out in the Kansas City skyline.”
The groundbreaking ceremony for the 126-unit luxury project at 2100 Wyandotte was a long time coming. Copaken Brooks began contemplating a development on the site 10 years ago.
The block was once occupied by what was coined the “PCB building.” It had been used to store equipment and fixtures contaminated with PCBs and was an EPA Superfund cleanup site.
In 2004, the building was surgically dismantled and the rubble was hauled to Oklahoma at a cost of $18 million. Copaken Brooks and an earlier partner acquired the property in 2007 with plans to develop it as a condominium project. That deal collapsed during the 2008 recession.
Since then, Copaken Brooks has redesigned the project at least twice to its present form, and now has St. Louis-based Altus Properties as a partner.
Josh Udelhofen, managing director of development at Altus Properties, is a native of Kansas City but left in 1997 when the only thing worth stopping for in downtown was a burger at the Town Topic, he noted.
The project is being built by J.E. Dunn Construction.
It will feature a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with first floor retail. An integrated garage is part of the development and amenities include an infinity pool with a view of Liberty Memorial, and 12th floor amenity suite with views of the downtown skyline.
“ARTerra will be one more important step in the city’s never ending job of improving our core,” Copaken said.
He added his firm hopes to develop “many more” residential projects with Altus.