By Kevin Collison
The vacant Jack Henry building at 47th and Jefferson is slated for a $44 million renovation to ready it for a hot entertainment tenant that would be new to the Kansas City market, according to its developer.
Matt Pennington, a principal with Drake Development, told the Port KC board Monday the tenant, which remains under a confidentiality agreement, wants to occupy 20,000 square feet, about one-third of the building by next year.
“We know this tenant would be a catalyst for more development in the Plaza to the west and would create an elite corner,” Pennington said.
A slide presentation by the developer described the planned entertainment tenant as “best-in-class.”
Pennington did say the tenant is not a theater complex. The Plaza has been without a movie theater since the Cinemark Palace closed in May.
The remainder of the building’s space is expected to be leased to restaurant and retail tenants.
The Port KC board approved allowing the developer to charge a special one-cent sales tax on purchases made in the building and a sales tax exemption on building materials. No property tax abatements were requested.
Pennington said the Jack Henry building, located at 612 W. 47th St., currently generates about $190,000 in property tax revenues for the city and other taxing jurisdictions.
When completed and fully occupied, it will yield an estimated $405,000 in property taxes and $1.65 million in city sales taxes annually, he said.
“This is a net-net positive for the city of Kansas City,” Jon Stephens, Port KC executive director, told the board. “Only users purchasing things in the building will pay a 1 percent sales tax.”
Pennington said the building, which is three levels of commercial space topped by a three-level, 155-space garage, is 100 percent vacant. Tomfooleries restaurant and Byron on the Plaza clothing store both closed at the end of 2018.
The financing incentives from Port KC is necessary because of the extensive costs including removing asbestos, upgrading the electrical system, sewer reconstruction, garage repairs and renovating the interior to allow greater ceiling heights.
The developer presentation said the redevelopment would improve the adjoining streetscape and save an “iconic” Plaza building from demolition.
The Jack Henry Building opened in 1954 and is not part of the original Country Club Plaza. The exterior was renovated in 1997 to make it more complementary to the Spanish-style architecture of the Plaza.
The new redevelopment would make relatively minor changes to the building appearance, Pennington said. The most visible change would be the addition of a “sister” tower to match an existing tower at the southeast corner of the building.
Don’t miss any downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.