By Kevin Collison
A $122 million residential project is in the works for the prominent, five-acre site of the old Trinity Lutheran Hospital complex by Penn Valley Park and near the planned streetcar stop at 31st and Main.
NorthPoint Development LLC has acquired what has been a troubled property for years and is seeking tax incentives from a new Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) development program recently established by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.
“This is the definition of a transit-oriented housing development and that’s exactly what we’re looking to do here on this site,” Mark Pomerenke, NorthPoint chief investment officer, told board members of the RideKC Development Corp. last week.
“We look forward to bringing a public-private partnership to what’s a very difficult situation and look forward to being the solution to that, and produce a project everyone will be proud of.”
NorthPoint is a major local commercial developer whose residential projects include the renovation of the historic Power & Light Building into apartments, and the 353-unit CORE apartment project now opening on the riverfront.
“The Residences at 31st and Baltimore” plan would solve a couple major headaches from a previous developer: the partially-finished Park Reserve condo project that’s left dozens of owners in the lurch, and the empty, derelict Trinity Lutheran complex.
“This project is not for the faint of heart, just like our restoration fo the historic P&L building downtown was not for the faint of heart,” said Brent Miles, NorthPoint chief marketing officer. “We will be fixing their (condo) problems and cleaning that up”
The plan calls the old hospital to be razed and replaced with a six-story apartment project with 385 units, the acquisition of 12 unsold condos, spending $1 million to certify the remaining 90 condos for occupancy, and renovate the 420-stall hospital garage.
Another 40,000 square-feet of space at the site could become a mixed-use plan, and NorthPoint also plans to work with the Rehabilitation Institute on a potential solution to activate its corner at 31st and Main.
NorthPoint officials said the residential project would be located strategically near major employment centers including Hospital Hill, Crown Center, downtown and the Country Club Plaza.
The development site has been struggling for more than a decade. Last year, Cushman & Wakefield was hired by a receiver appointed by the Jackson County Circuit Court to sell the property that had been owned by Park Reserve LLC.
Park Reserve developer Wayne Reeder had completed and sold about 90 condos before losing control of the project. Residents have complained for years about the its poor condition and lack of progress toward completing the development.
The main hospital complex, parts of which date back 100 years, has been vacant since 2001, and has been frequently vandalized and languishes in disrepair.
The proposal by NorthPoint and another 223-unit project planned by Milhaus, an Indianapolis developer, called Jefferson Square near 39th and State Line Road by the KU Medical Center, are the first projects to be submitted in the KCATA’s new START program.
START–Sustaining Transportation and Reinvesting Together–is intended to encourage and provide incentives for transit-oriented development projects. Revenue bonds are issued by the KCATA and repaid by the developers.
The RideKC Development board unanimously approved recommending the full KCATA board issuing revenue bonds for both the NorthPoint and Milhaus projects.
The details of the duration and percentage of property tax abatements must still be negotiated, according to Frank White III, vice president of development for RideKC Development.
White said the developer also intends to try to meet the city’s affordable housing policy.
It requires projects seeking incentives to reserve 10 percent of their units for households earning 70 percent or less of the Area Median Income, and 10 percent earning 30 percent or less.
Officials at NorthPoint could not be reached immediately for comment.
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