By Kevin Collison
City Manager Troy Schulte used the grand opening of the $40.7 million ARTerra apartment tower in the Crossroads Wednesday to urge continued public support for downtown revitalization, saying it also helps the overall city.
“All 475,000 people in Kansas City benefit from a strong downtown,” he told the audience gathered in the lobby of the luxury residential project.
“If you don’t have a downtown working, you’ll have a hard time investing in neighborhoods.”
The 12-story ARTerra project at 2100 Wyandotte opened for residents at the beginning of the year and was developed by a joint venture between Copaken Brooks of Kansas City and St. Louis-based Altus Properties.
The 126-unit project is asking some of the highest rents to date in downtown with rents for a 420 square-foot studio starting at $1,050 and the largest, three-bedroom, two-bath apartments going for over $4,000.
Developer Jon Copaken declined to disclose how many units have been rented so far, saying only its meeting expectations.
But with tax incentives a hot political issue again–a petition initiative on the ballot in June would cap incentives at 50 percent of what’s allowed by state law–both Copaken and Schulte offered a full-throated defense.
They pointed out the site of ARTerra previously had been contaminated with toxic PCBs stored there for decades and designated a EPA Superfund location before the developer decided to pursue the project.
“When someone says, why are we using incentives, this was literally an EPA Superfund site,” Schulte said.
“This is why incentives are important. The market wasn’t going to work here because the development costs were too high because of decisions made 50 years ago.”
Copaken said the project took almost 12 years to complete from when it was first contemplated. He added it was the first high-rise residential project to be built in the Crossroads.
“In isolation, it’s a great project, but each additional project creates the density we need to create a sustainable downtown.
“Now is not the time to take the gas off. Now is not the time to stop public-private projects.”
As part of that push for density, Copaken Brooks also is developing a new, 14-story apartment project at 18th and Walnut streets called REVERB. That $40 million project will have 132 units and is expected to open in summer 2020.
Copaken said construction began at the REVERB site two months ago and is expected to go vertical soon.
Schulte said the revival of downtown has contributed directly to reinvestment in nearby neighborhoods.
“The ring of redevelopment gets wider and wider,” he said. “Beacon Hills is taking off because of investments made in downtown.”
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