By Kevin Collison
A 13-story apartment project planned next to the City Market has become significantly more expensive because of inflation after several months of delays caused in part by a hassle with the FAA over its proposed height.
The new cost estimate for what’s called City Harvest is $95.6 million, 27.5 percent more than the $75 million calculated in January when Port KC first approved issuing a bond for the development proposed by Flaherty & Collins near Fifth and Main.
On Monday, the Port KC development committee unanimously endorsed increasing the bond the agency is planning to issue for the project to $97 million. The full Port KC commission is expected to consider the request later this month.
Officials at Flaherty & Collins said in a previous interview that construction on City Harvest could begin early next year.
The Indianapolis-based developer is seeking a 25-year property tax abatement for the project. It would start at 85 percent for the first five years and drop by increments to 25 percent the last five years. It’s also asking for a sales tax break on construction materials.
Even with the abatement, the project would generate $14.3 million for taxing jurisdictions, including schools and libraries, over its 25 year life. The property currently is a publicly-owned parking lot that generates no taxes.
The developer also has pledged $500,000 to improve the adjoining City Market Park green space. The plan also calls for reopening Main Street between Fifth and Third streets.
“There will be significant rebuilding and reopening of what is the historic Main Street which will allow for improved access in and out of the City Market, and add on-street surface stalls on this internal drive,” Stephens said.
As for the height issue, city and Port KC officials met with officials from the Federal Aviation Administration last month and said they were optimistic the FAA would not only ease the height restrictions for City Harvest, but other future River Market projects.
“The FAA did agree with Port KC, the city and others to remove the determination back to preliminary and we’re very optimistic the FAA will revise their air height restrictions across the entire River Market,” Jon Stephens, Port KC president and CEO, told the committee.
The project will include 300 apartments and a 260-space garage on what’s currently a parking lot immediately west of the City Market. It would have 72 studio units; 140 one-bedroom, and 88 two-bedroom apartments.
The project also includes 8,200 square-feet of retail space.
The developer will set aside 60, or 20 percent, of the apartments for affordable housing, 45 at up to 70 percent of Median Family Income and 15 at 50 percent of MFI.
According to estimates submitted in January, at 70 percent MFI level, monthly rents for a studio would be $1,061; one-bedrooms, $1,212, and two-bedrooms, $1,364. At the 50 percent MFI, studio rents would be $758; one-bedrooms, $866, and two-bedrooms, $974.
The full, market-rate monthly rents for the remaining 240 units would be $1,250 for a studio; $1,800 for a one-bedroom, and $2,400 for a two-bedroom.
City officials, notably City Manager Brian Platt, have backed the City Harvest proposal, saying its height and density should be a model for future developments, not only in the River Market, but greater downtown.
Stephens said there are several city-owned properties in the River Market that officials would like to see developed, noting proposals have been talked about for many years without moving forward.
“There are actually three and possibly four city-owned lots the city would like to see redeveloped in the River Market,” he said.
“This was considered a way to do a project that would kickstart that development and hopefully in a way that will deepen and grow.”
One concept that has languished is a proposal to redevelop two other city parking lots on the south side of Fifth and Main. An entity called 500 Main Developers LLC submitted a plan two years ago to develop a 189-unit project at 500-507 Main.
In June, a developer who wants to build a 246-unit apartment project on a publicly-owned parking lot at Third and Grand received support from a city development agency for a 25-year property tax abatement.
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