By Kevin Collison
The $50 million redevelopment plan for the reflective glass-clad building known as the Flashcube received critical tax incentives to move forward today, the latest project on the downtown Kansas City streetcar line.
The nine-story building at 720 Main St. is being redeveloped by Worcester Investments into 184 apartments and 35,800 square-feet of commercial space including a a rooftop restaurant, first-floor coffee shop and shared office space.
The Planned Industrial Expansion Authority approved a 25-year property tax abatement, 10 years at 100 percent, 15 years at 50 percent, for the redevelopment plan and a sales tax exemption on construction materials.
The building, which has been vacant for 11 years, recently received historic designation and is eligible for historic tax credits. Developer Paul Worcester assured the PIEA board that he expects his request for state historic tax credits will be approved next month despite the uncertainty hanging over the program.
“Part of the reason this building has sat for 10 years is no one could make the financing work,” Worcester told the PIEA board. “We’ve spoken to the state tax credit committee and we’re confident we’ll have the credits.”
More than $10 million of the project’s financing is expected to be received through a combination of state and federal historic tax credits. The building was completed in 1973.
As part of an agreement with the PIEA to receive the full, 25-year property tax abatement, the developer committed to reserving 25 units in the apartment building for affordable housing and to pay prevailing wage to construction workers.
Although the city approved a policy last year limiting property tax abatements to 20 years, the Flashcube project was submitted to the PIEA board before that policy went into effect, board members were told.
The breakdown of Flashcube units are: 48 studios, 48 one-bedroom, 72 two-bedroom and 16 three bedroom.
Construction is expected to begin before the end of this year with completion of the first apartments expected 18 months later likely in early 2019.
The Flashcube building is the latest downtown office building to find new life as a residential development. Kansas City has seen a decline in its downtown office vacancy rate thanks in large part to the number of former office buildings that been been removed from the inventory in recent years after being redeveloped for other uses.