By Kevin Collison
Work has resumed on the 276-unit Second and Delaware apartment development after a lengthy shutdown, its energy-efficient, concrete walls rapidly rising beneath a tower crane visible throughout the River Market.
Construction on the $71 million project resumed in November following an 16-month shutdown caused by a contractor dispute.
Now, Crossland Construction has taken over the job with 100 workers currently on the site daily, 250 are expected at its peak, and the market-rate apartment development is expected to be completed by August 2020.
“Within the five months we’ve been underway, there’s been more tangible progress on the building than we saw the whole time it was previously under construction,” said Cliff Cohn, a partner in the project.
“This thing has leaped out of the ground.”
Jonathan Arnold, the guiding partner, said despite the setbacks, the project overlooking the Missouri River has held true to its vision of being the world’s largest “passive house building,” using 90 percent less energy than similar buildings in Kansas City.
“This project has been the culmination of years of effort and thought,” Arnold said.
“The fact we have an end date now and we’re on our third floor of construction is a testament to both the team that came together to work on this project and the potential social and environmental impact this project will bring.”
To go along with its environmentally-friendly design, Second and Delaware also will have a high-tech sales office that will allow prospective tenants to use virtual reality goggles to walk through the its apartment layouts and amenities.
The sales office is expected to open in early summer at First and Main lofts building next door at 136 Main St. The use of VR technology as a marketing tool is believed to be a first in the local market.
The goggles will allow people to “see” amenities including the rooftop garden, pool area and soccer-field size courtyard, and in the case of a two-bedroom unit overlooking the river, walk through its rooms, look under its counters and actually peer over its balcony.
The VR imagery was produced by Arnold Imaging, a venture founded by Arnold when he first arrived in Kansas City from New York City in 2002.
The Second and Delaware project incorporates many of the energy-efficient and green-design features Arnold learned while working for the United Nations during its “Rio+20: The Future We Want” environmental conference in 2011.
The key design component to making the Second and Delaware project super energy-efficient is the use of passive building standards. Its 16-inch thick walls are built with two layers of concrete with a layer of insulation between them.
Arnold hopes the Second and Delaware design will be replicated at similar developments he would like to pursue both in Kansas City and other parts of the country.
It helps that one of his chief financial backers is Affordable Housing Partners, a company that’s part of the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio controlled by Warren Buffett.
While the project has now resumed with its energy-efficient design elements intact, the lengthy construction delay significantly increased the cost of the project. As a result, the original plan that called for some of the units to be reserved for affordable housing has been scrapped.
The development will have 56 studios; 120, one-bedroom units, and 100 two-bedroom units. The monthly rents are expected to range from $1,200 for a 550 square-foot studio to $2,100 for a 1,325 square foot two-bedroom unit.
There also is a 508-space garage for residents which also will have about 90 spaces available for lease to others.
Arnold and his partners, father and son Cliff and Jonathan Cohn, believe the apartment market remains strong, particularly in the River Market neighborhood. National studies indicate will be a demand for 45 million units in walkable, urban neighborhoods, Arnold said.
The building is expected to be attractive to both empty-nesters and younger adults because of its energy efficiency and amenities, including a cooperative rooftop garden.
“The River Market remains viable and has a marvelous clientele,” Cohn said. “There are people walking their dogs, enjoying sitting at cafés, it has a nice feel.”
Don’t miss any downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.