(Feb. 7 Editor’s note: the City Council unanimously approved the Armour Corner project Thursday, construction is expected to begin in June.)
By Kevin Collison
An ambitious plan five years in the making to transform the moribund corners of Troost and Armour into a 340-unit, mid-rise apartment development won a key endorsement Wednesday from a City Council Committee.
The unanimous support from the Council Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee sends the Armour Corner project on to the full City Council for final consideration next week.
If approved as expected, MAC Properties plans to begin construction this June on the first phase of the market-rate project, five-story apartment buildings that will be built on the northeast and southeast corners of the intersection.
The second phase, the construction of eight-story buildings on the northwest and southwest corners, is expected to begin in 2022.
The entire Armour Corner development, including a 110-unit apartment building at 520 E. Armour now under construction, is valued at $78 million.
Planning for Armour Corner began in 2015.
Since then, it’s gone through multiple hoops including incentive approvals by a development agency and the Council, 20 meetings with four different neighborhood associations and a design review by the City Plan Commission.
“I think we’re in a good place,” said Councilman Lee Barnes Jr., the committee chairman.
“If we’re looking for our city to thrive and grow, some of these kinds of project are going to have to happen. We’re looking at something that will bring vitality to the area.”
Developer Peter Cassel said his Chicago-based firm considers Armour Corner a huge step in a redevelopment effort the firm began a dozen years ago to transform the Armour Boulevard corridor from Troost to Broadway into a thriving neighborhood.
“We’ve been working on Armour since 2007 and we now have 1,500 apartments,” he said. “This adds another 340.”
Monthly rents for a studio at Armour Corner are expected to be about $875. One bedrooms will go for $1,000 and two bedrooms, $1,200. The average rent for all units wold be about $925 per month.
As part of the development plan, teachers and other public employees also will receive a 10 percent discount on their rent.
The development also will include 13,000 square feet of retail space, enough, Cassel said, for eight- to 10 new businesses.
The original Armour Corner plan called for 30,000 square feet of retail, but it was scaled back to reduce the demand for parking.
The project’s biggest sore point with the most of the neighborhood groups was how much parking it would provide for its residents. In response, MAC reduced the retail and also acquired property increase the number of surface parking spaces to 187.
At the Council Committee meeting, parking was still an issue for Pete Hughes, president of the Center City Neighborhood Association.
“These are not low-income apartments, most of these people will have cars,” he said. “We’re concerned that possibly hundreds of cars will be wandering the neighborhood looking for places to park.”
But Councilman Brandon Ellington, who’s Third District is where the first phase of the project will be located, expressed concern the amount of retail had been reduced to address parking concerns.
Ellington said he would rather have had the developer retain the 30,000 square feet to bring more businesses to the area, adding he would have been willing to take the “heat” if people were concerned about parking.
Ellington joined the rest of the Committee however, in supporting the project, a vote that Cassel said was significant.
“I’m pleased to get the support of the Third District councilman,” he said. “It’s critical because he is the elected representative of the community.”
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