By Kevin Collison
An ambitious plan to redevelop 11 deteriorated apartment buildings along The Paseo between Ninth and 14th streets into 197 affordable apartments was approved by a city development agency Thursday.
The $18.5 million Jazz Hill Apartments project is intended to provide affordable housing and a social service network to support its residents, particularly veterans, according to developer Maxus Properties.
“Our goal is to encourage a more comprehensive, supportive environment for our vulnerable tenants,” said DeAnn Totta, a vice president at Maxus.
“We want to focus on permanent housing for our veteran population and persons at risk.”
The large brick apartment buildings to be renovated were built between 1896 and 1906 and are located along the west side of an impressive stretch of the historic boulevard. Eight of the 11 buildings are currently vacant.
The historic buildings were renovated as public housing in 1975 and later renovated using the historic tax credit program in 2000, according to documents filed with the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority.
All of the units are considered affordable and will be available to residents at or below 60 percent of the area median income. Average monthly rents will be $475 for studios, $625 for one-bedroom and $725 for two-bedroom apartments.
In addition, 20 percent or 40 of the units will be reserved for veterans.
The PIEA board enthusiastically endorsed the developers request for incentives including a 25-year property tax abatement, 10 years at 100 percent, 15 years at 50 percent; a $9.5 million revenue bond, and a sales tax exemption on construction material.
The project financing also will be assisted with state low-income housing tax credits and state and federal historic tax credits.
Several board members said they especially liked the project because it would help meet the city’s goal of providing more affordable housing opportunities in the greater downtown area.
“This is an awesome project,” said board member Amy Bretall.
“I hope we see more like this that support the community needs for affordable housing, veterans and the many noted partnerships, like the Salvation Army who does so much good in Kansas City.
“I applaud the developer.”
In addition to providing housing, the developer has lined up an array of social service agencies to help its future residents.
For veterans, Maxus will partner with the Veterans Community Project, Salvation Army Supportive Services for Veteran Families, Housing Authority of Kansas City, HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing and reStart.
All residents will have the services of First Call and Truman Medical Center should they want counseling for alcohol and drug addiction, and/or post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)
In addition, Connecting for Good will provide computer literacy services to residents. The Arts Asylum also will provide classes to help veterans express their emotions through art, Totta said.
“We believe these onsite services will help residents be less likely to be evicted or fall behind on their rent, or engage in criminal behavior,” she said.
Construction is expected to start the first quarter of 2020 with completion anticipated by the end of 2021.
(Editor’s note: Beginning Dec. 2, CityScene KC will become a paid subscription publication)
Don’t miss any downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.