Developer Pursuing Two Historic Apartment Projects in ‘Fringe’ Between Downtown and Midtown

The Wonder lofts project is expected to be completed this spring.

By Kevin Collison

A pair of historic buildings in what their developer calls the “fringe” area between downtown and midtown are on their way to new life as apartment developments.

Caleb Buland and his Denver partner Ilan Salzberg recently took the first step to renovating the long-vacant Acme Cleaning Co. building at 3200 Gillham Rd. and are well underway with their $15 million renovation of the former Wonderbread bakery building at 3001 Troost.

“We love downtown and we try to find underused buildings in the downtown-midtown fringe, projects that are a little messier,” Bland said. “We’re bullish on Kansas City.”

Rich terra cotta detailing frames a door at the Wonder loft project.

The Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority last week declared the 3200 Gilliam property blighted. It has been vacant and vandalized for more than five year.

The blighted designation is the first step toward seeking tax incentives to assist with the $4.8 million renovation.

Exact Partners, Buland and Salzburg’s development firm, wants to convert the 1925 building into 28 market-rate apartments. Plans call for a mix of studio units with an average monthly rent of $776, and one-bedroom units averaging $1,059.

“The idea is to take it back to its heyday by restoring its historic exterior and doing apartments with a nice twist on a New York loft,” Buland said.

The project is called Acme3two, and if it wins the necessary city approvals, Buland said it could be completed by Thanksgiving of next year.

The development will be before the City Plan Commission Oct. 17. The developers are represented by Bob Mayer of MR Capital Advisors.

The redevelopment of the historic bakery building on Troost is deep in construction and is expected to be completed by next spring.

The project, called “Wonder” lofts includes 87 apartments split roughly 50-50 between one- and two-bedroom units, with commercial space on the ground floor.

The historic Acme Cleaning Co. building at 3200 Gilliam Rd. is slated to become 28 loft-style apartments.

Buland said they hope to attract a spa, dry cleaner, “farm-to-table” brewery and office incubator space to the ground floor of Wonder. A 200-person rooftop event space also is part of the project. Rents for the apartments will range from $400- to $900 per month.

“We’re pretty bullish on Troost,” he said. “We bought the Wonder building, the land across the street and a smaller office building. “We want a 24/7 presence with a fresh history.”

The developer already has landed a tenant for its building at 3000 Troost, Ruby Jean’s Juicery. Ruby Jean’s also recently opened an outlet on the ground floor of the Town Pavilion office tower in downtown.

Buland added both the Wonder and the Acme3two projects are using state and federal historic tax credits to assist their financing. Historic preservation advocates are concerned proposed cuts and restrictions on the current Missouri program could cripple it.

“Without credits, we could not have done the projects,” he said.

Work on the Wonder lofts redevelopment at 3001 Troost Ave. is well underway.
Plans for the Wonder redevelopment project include a brew pub.

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