Big Volker Apartment Project by KU Med Wins Committee Support

The Jamestown Square apartment development would wrap around the old Scotford Building (center) at 3932-34 Bell St. briefly owned by Harry Truman. (Rendering by Helix and SixTwentyOne)

(Editor’s note: The full City Council approved the Jamestown Square plan at its March 3 meeting)

By Kevin Collison

The proposed Jamestown Square apartment project, the biggest investment on the Missouri side of the 39th Street corridor by KU Med in a decade, won easy backing Wednesday from a City Council committee.

The 223-unit apartment development is planned for what’s now a parking lot serving businesses on 39th and State Line Road, and its design is intended to help knit together one of the city’s more varied districts.

“We tried to take the residential neighborhood, the retail on 39th and the institutional side with KU Med and use this project to bring together all these disparate looks and feels,” said John McGurk of vice president of development at Milhaus.

The development plan, which also preserves the historic Scotford apartment building at 3932-34 Bell St. that Harry Truman had a brief ownership stake in 1921, was endorsed unanimously by the Council Neighborhood and Economic Development Committee.

It’s expected to be approved by the full Council when it meets today.

Jamestown Square would be five stories tall along State Line Road where it faces KU Med. (Rendering by Helix and SixTwentyOne)

McGurk said construction would be able to start by late summer with a summer 2024 completion anticipated.

It’s been almost 10 years since West 39th, a 70-unit apartment and retail project, opened at the northeast corner of 39th and State Line Road on the Missouri side.

Since then, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested on the Kansas side, both at the KU Medical Center and University of Kansas Hospital campus, and commercial projects along Rainbow Boulevard.

The planned Jamestown Square project is intended to provide housing not only for nearby medical center employees and students, but for the Volker neighborhood and its thriving commercial strip along 39th.

The market-rate apartment project would wrap around a 360-space garage that would include 125 spaces to replace those lost to the businesses along with parking for the apartment residents. Six spaces also would be reserved for Scotford residents.

The Jamestown Square project would replace this surface across State Line Road from KU Med.

The current parking lot serves businesses including Jimmy’s Jiggers, d’Bronx pizza and Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill.

The development plan calls for the garage to be completed as soon as possible to minimize the disruption to businesses and their customers on 39th Street. The primary garage entrance would be off State Line Road.

“We want to make sure those retail tenants thrive, not just after we finish the project and replace the parking lot,” McGurk told the Council committee.

“We’ve made arrangements at the University of Kansas Hospital garage for validated parking while we’re building the new garage to make sure those tenants have as little disruption as possible.”

McGurk also said a service alley will be built behind the 39th Street businesses as part of the development, a move that will allow delivery trucks better access rather than double parking on 39th Street.

The owner of the businesses also is planning to create a green space behind them for outdoor dining, McGurk said.

Another view of the Bell Street frontage with the landscaping removed. (Rendering by Helix and SixTwentyOne)

The Jamestown Square project would be five stories along State Line Road and four stories along Bell where it would face the residential neighborhood of single-family homes and small apartment buildings.

At a neighborhood meeting last year, McGurk said the mix of units in the building would be studios, ones- and two-bedroom units. Estimated rents would range from $1,100 to $2,200 per month.

And while the Volker Neighborhood Association couldn’t endorse the development plan because of “mixed resident sentiment,” the organization did praise the developer’s willingness to listen.

“The board did vote to formally acknowledge the consistent professionalism and sincerity the development team has exhibited over the last year,” Patrick Faltico, board president, wrote in a letter.

The design team is Helix Architecture + Design and SixTwentyOne, both of Kansas City.

Jamestown Square would also be potentially served by an extension of the streetcar route on 39th Street west from Main Street that would be the subject of a proposed study requested by KU Med and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County.

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  1. I live and Volker and am ALL for this project!!! What does “mixed resident sentiment” mean?

    • That’s a quote from the Volker Association letter, apparently not everyone in your neighborhood supports it.

    • I live in Volker too, and think they’ve done a stellar job. As you probably know, a lot of people in Volker don’t like the idea of living in an urban environment. It is insane to me that many would rather have an empty lot full of KU Med employee cigarette butts.

      • I live downtown now but used to live in Hyde Park. The sentiment there is the same. I loved living in Hyde Park and still really miss it, but wow, that neighborhood is VERY anti-development of any kind. Ironically, one of the major complaints leveled at new development is “where will all the parking go” but then they complain that the development will destroy the character of the neighborhood (as if new parking lots won’t??). It’s madness. I don’t understand why anti-development NIMBY folks live in urban neighborhoods if they never want them to change, and everything be single-family with ample parking (and then also complain about rising home prices and taxes). There are plenty of suburbs for that. It drives me insane.

  2. Kevin – Have you heard anything about what might replace the “Grand Pavilion” across from St. Luke’s Cardio building on Broadway. It’s demolition is almost complete.

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