By Kevin Collison
A big piece of easily developable real estate in the East Crossroads once considered as a potential downtown ballpark site is up for sale by its longtime owner, Hallmark.
The two-block property is between Oak and Cherry streets from 19th to 20th streets, and is considered a prime development opportunity because of its large scale. The five- to six acre site has been mostly used for surface parking.
“We believe it will be sold for someone to develop as a multi-use project with multi-family residential,” said Stacey Paine, president of Crown Center Redevelopment Corp. a Hallmark’s real estate subsidiary.
“It’s unique in that it’s a two-block area. That makes it attractive because the land is already assembled.”
The East Crossroads site also is among several downtown locations that were considered candidates for a possible downtown ballpark when the Downtown Council and some civic leaders made a pitch to the Royals in 2005.
And while that downtown ballpark push has been renewed this year, Paine said Hallmark has not been approached by anyone associated with that effort.
“I know it hasn’t come up and there’s no talk about that in the market,” she said.
Sean O’Byrne, vice president of the Downtown Council, said the East Crossroads site has been on the list of potential sites, but was unaware of any efforts currently to assemble land for a potential ballpark.
Paine said Hallmark has owned the property for a long time, and began marketing it several months ago. The asking price is $7.5 million.
And while Crown Center Redevelopment has done significant projects over the years, both on its own and in partnerships, it has no interest in developing the East Crossroads site.
“It’s not contiguous to any of of our other property,” Paine said.
“We’re reacting to all the development going on and the popularity of the Crossroads and downtown, thinking there was a development opportunity for that space.”
The Hallmark site is not the only large piece of open land being offered in the East Crossroads. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority also is interested in developing a vacant block it owns northwest of 18th and Forest.
Paine said Hallmark has had strong interest from potential buyers for its East Crossroads property.
Developers say that amount of land makes it a good location for a large apartment project–or a ballpark.
“I’ve always thought that it would be a great site for a ballpark, but you’d need to add land to it,” said Gib Kerr, vice president at Cushman & Wakefield.
“Obviously, apartments would be the main thing. It’s hard to find a good apartment development site.”
Matt Abbott of Abbott Properties, a major landlord in the East Village area, said a residential development that could tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of the Crossroads would be a good use for the land.
He also believes the downtown Kansas City apartment market remains robust.
“When I compare us to other markets, I think there’s still opportunity for downtown residential and there’s a huge opportunity at that site for downtown residential.
“I think a downtown ballpark would work there, but I don’t think that location is going to wait around that long.”