By Kevin Collison
The laid-back East Crossroads district is about to become much livelier with the pending purchase of two blocks by an Indianapolis developer whose expertise is building big residential projects.
Milhaus, the developer of the 400-unit Gallerie residential project going up south of Crown Center, has a deal to buy a two-block parcel between Oak and Cherry streets from 19th to 20th streets.
The property, almost two full city blocks, is described by Block Real Estate Services as the “largest redevelopment site in downtown Kansas City.”
And while it’s too soon to lay out a specific redevelopment plan, Brad Vogelsmeier, the local Milhaus official, said it should fall within his firm’s usual approach.
“We don’t have any concrete plans to release at this point,” he said, “but knowing our nature as mixed-use, multi-family developers, you can anticipate what kind of use we plan there.”
The property, totaling 5.6 acres, is owned by Kissel Properties and Crown Center Redevelopment Corp., both wholly owned subsidiaries of Hallmark. It’s currently leased on a monthly basis by Children’s Mercy Hospital for employee parking.
Block describes it as the “largest redevelopment site in downtown Kansas City.
“The opportunity to acquire roughly two entire city blocks in downtown Kansas City is extremely rare, and represents an unmatched opportunity for a single buyer to develop a substantial piece of business in the heart of Kansas City.”
Crown Center Redevelopment decided to sell the land rather than develop it, and in turning to Milhaus, it has found a familiar partner.
The property at 27th and Gilliam where the $68 million Gallerie project is being developed also was owned by Crown Center and had been used for surface parking.
Milhaus is now building a first phase at Gallerie that consists of 361 market-rate apartments, a structured garage and 7,500 square-feet of retail space. Its local partner is UC-B Properties. The first units are expected to be ready for occupancy this August.
A $12 million second phase that includes a 50-unit apartment building and 10 townhouses is expected to start this spring.
Whatever Milhaus plans for the East Crossroads will be a big shift from the more organic nature of redevelopment that’s occurred there to date. The area also has seen no significant residential development.
The district primarily straddles 18th Street from McGee to Campbell streets. A score of low-rise, old commercial buildings have been redeveloped into microbreweries, coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries and live music venues, including The Truman and CrossroadsKC.
No major new construction has happened in the East Crossroads, but if as expected, the Milhaus purchase is completed by year’s end, that’s going to change.
“We just put the site under contract and we plan to start thinking about options pretty quickly,” Vogelsmeier said.
“We see it as a great opportunity and a great neighborhood for redevelopment. There’s a lot of great businesses in the East Crossroads.”
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