By Kevin Collison
A development in the works for a two-block site in the East Crossroads will likely include more than 300 apartments and significant commercial space, according to an attorney for the developer, Indianapolis-based Milhaus.
Attorney Chris Kline told the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority Thursday that details are still being prepared by Milhaus but the project being contemplated for the blocks bound by Oak and Cherry from 19th to 20th streets should have a major impact on the area.
“We view the project as a catalyst to spur development in the East Crossroads and eventually connect with 18th and Vine,” he said.
In addition to the apartments, Kline said the project will probably include about 10,000 square feet of commercial space and structured parking.
The 5.6-acre parcel is currently mostly surface parking leased by Children’s Mercy Hospital and a small industrial building.
The property is owned by Kissel Properties and Crown Center Redevelopment Corp., both wholly owned subsidiaries fo Hallmark. Milhaus plans to close on the purchase by the end of this year.
Milhaus already is developing former Crown Center property at 27th Street and Gillham Road as a 400-unit apartment and retail project called Gallerie. That $68 million development is expected to begin occupying apartments this August.
The East Crossroads property being purchased by Milhaus was described in its marketing materials prepared by Block Real Estate Services as the “largest redevelopment site in downtown Kansas City.”
At one time, it was considered a prime potential location for a downtown ballpark for the Royals, but no effort was made to acquire it.
The developer plans to seek property tax abatements from the PIEA to help finance the project.
In response to questions from the board, Kline said the there have been preliminary conversations with the city about including affordable housing in the proposed development.
Downtown has seen little new affordable housing developed in recent years, and the city projects that up to 41 percent of the existing affordable units will be lost during the next five years as low-income housing tax incentives expire.
“We’re well aware of the importance of affordable housing,” Kline said.
The PIEA board approved a resolution authorizing a blight study for the East Crossroads property and preparation of a general development plan for the area. Both steps are necessary before a potential property tax abatement is considered.
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Great news for the Crossroads but hopefully the development will enhance and not detract from the vibe that makes the district so appealing to many.
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