By Kevin Collison
Today’s opening of the nine-story building housing the Children’s Mercy Research Institute is the latest in a series of recent major investments galvanizing both the Hospital Hill district and nearby environs, particularly Troost Avenue.
The tower will provide space for cutting edge research in diagnosing and treating complex childhood diseases, and joins other recent healthcare facility investments in what’s collectively called the UMKC Health Sciences District.
Whether it’s called Hospital Hill or something fancier, its economic impact on greater downtown has been huge in recent years. More than 16,000 people now work or study in the area, and its triggered more than $550 million in new construction.
That figure includes more than $234 million invested by private developers building new apartments and commercial projects on the surrounding blocks along Troost, the East Crossroads and near Crown Center.
Many of the residents and customers for those hundreds of new apartments and new businesses work or study at Hospital Hill.
One example is the 249-unit, 2501 Beacon Hill apartment development that opened last year at 25th and Troost.
“At 2501 Beacon Hill many of our connections have a direct tie to Hospital Hill,” said Shelby McGuire, property manager.
“Furthermore, we have noticed an uptick in inquiries associated with Hospital Hill which suggests with spring around the corner, we will be seeing many more.”
The new Children’s Research Institute tower is expected to employ many more scientists and healthcare workers. It provides more than six times the research space currently on campus and includes 140,000 square space of shell space for future growth.
“This is a world-class research facility dedicated exclusively to advancing the heath and well-being of children right here in Kansas City and beyond,” Paul Kempinski, president and CEO of Children’s Mercy, said in a statement.
“The research, innovation and collaboration that happens inside this building will accelerate answers and give hope to families everywhere.”
The 375,000 square-foot research tower, which began construction two years ago, cost an estimated $200 million to build, furnish and equip. But it’s not the only major new healthcare building to be added to the campus in recent years.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City and Truman Medical Center also have been active expanding their presence in the district.
Last December, Truman Medical Center, the teaching hospital for UMKC, opened the $70 million University Health 2 medical office building at 22nd and Charlotte, joining the $45 million University Health 1 building that opened nearby in 2015.
“The UMKC Health Sciences District is truly a center for patient care, research, teaching and learning in the heart of the Kansas City area,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal.
“Its continuing growth is a key economic driver for downtown.”
That engine has helped drive several near commercial developments nearby including the $40 million 2501 Beacon Hill apartments on Troost; the $72 million Artistry KC apartments in the East Crossroads; $64 million Gallerie apartments at 27th and McGee;
The $24 million Marcato apartments at 27th and Troost; the $16 million Del Sol hotel at 24th and Troost, and the $18 million redevelopment of the former Wonder Bread bakery at 30th and Troost into the Wonder Shops + Flats.
“We have a ton of nurses, teachers and students who live there,” said Caleb Buland, the developer of the Wonder project.
“All our apartments are 100 percent full and part of that is because of all the energy in the neighborhood. I think the recipe is working.”
The increased Hospital Hill activity is boosting long-time neighbors as well. Children’s Mercy leases office space at Crown Center, and the district’s employees and students shop and eat there.
“We know the people who work and study there eat at our restaurants and shop here as well,” said Anne Deuschle, marketing manager at Crown Center.
Buland said new businesses on Troost, including The Combine restaurant that opened in Wonder and nearby Ruby Jean’s Juicery, are feeling the economic benefit.
“On the retail side, we’re getting new folks either coming back to the area to live or working in the area,” he said.
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