By Kevin Collison
The West Bottoms area coined as the Stockyards District was called the potential “next big booming area of Kansas City” by Mayor Sly James at a groundbreaking event for a $41 million apartment project Tuesday.
“This place has been transformed,” James told a small audience on hand for the chilly kickoff of the 232-unit project next door to the historic Livestock Exchange Building at 1600 Genessee St.
“Seven years ago, the Kemper was empty and the (Stockyards Place) apartments and Amigoni were not there. This is a desirable area to be in.”
And while there are no current plans, the mayor was so excited he suggested the streetcar eventually should be extended to the West Bottoms.
It was a big development day for an area that once was the economic engine of Kansas City during the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century.
Its sprawling livestock yards and huge meatpacking plants employed thousands before the 1951 Missouri River flood washed it away.
The Yards project being built by Flaherty & Collins Properties of Indianapolis was described as the first large-scale new project in the Stockyards District.
It’s also joining the nearby $39 million redevelopment of the former Kemper Arena and the soon-to-open reincarnation of the Golden Ox restaurant. A topping out ceremony for the arena project, at which its new name will be announced, is expected April 4.
“We’re excited to start the project and be part of the neighborhood,” said Ryan Cronk, a vice president at Flaherty & Collins. “There are nine restaurants and bars within walking distance.”
Cronk also saluted Bill Haw Sr. for his leadership.
Haw purchased the historic Livestock Exchange building in 1991 and restored it to economic vitality. The hundreds of people working there in turn helped spur more nearby investment.
Haw also developed the 11-unit Stockyards Place apartments across Genessee Street from the Livestock building, renovated the historic building where Amigoni urban winery is located and is a major investor in The Yards as well.
He also is working with Steve Foutch, the developer of the Kemper, to develop a dozen sand volleyball courts near the arena.
“Bill is the catalyst of all the redevelopment in the Stockyards and we couldn’t have entered into business with a better person,” Cronk said.
The Yards was designed by KEM Studio and is being built by MW Builders. The project also will lease 250 parking spaces in the underutilized, city-owned West Bottoms parking garage immediately to the west.
“This is an exciting time for the rebirth of this area,” said City Councilman Scott Taylor.
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