Historic Kansas City Honors Pickwick Redevelopment

Historic Pickwick Plaza was renovated into the 260-unit East 9 apartment project using historic tax credits.

By Kevin Collison

The newly-renovated East 9 at Pickwick Plaza apartment project was honored with two top awards from Historic Kansas City Wednesday, the city’s premier preservation organization.

The 260-unit apartment development at 933 McGee St. received the group’s excellence awards for Best Adaptive Re-Use and for Neighborhood Stabilization. The historic Pickwick complex covers almost an entire city block northeast of 10th and McGee.

The $65 million redevelopment of the complex was completed last year. In an interview, developer Tom Smith cited the often-endangered state historic credit program as vital to financing the project.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized and this represents the work of hundreds of professionals and workers who brought this grand old building back to life,” Smith said.

“Thank God for historic tax credits which we want to keep alive. We couldn’t have done it without the use of those credits.”

The Historic Kansas City event was held in the ornate lobby of the historic Pickwick building.

Smith said the development is 98 percent leased. The Historic KC awards event was held in the lobby of the Pickwick.

When it opened in 1930, the Pickwick was one of the biggest downtown developments. The complex included an 11-story hotel, interstate bus terminal, garage and six-story office building all unified in the “streamline Gothic” style.

At its peak, the bus terminal handled 4,433 scheduled departures per month. Harry Truman used the hotel as a retreat during the 1930s to write his journal known as the “Pickwick Papers.”

In addition to the apartments, the Pickwick features grand two-story lobby, a fitness club and indoor pool. The architect for the redevelopment was Helix Architecture + Design.

The original architect of the complex was Wight & Wight, a Kansas City firm that also designed the First National Bank building, now the Central Library, and the original Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art building.

The other Historic Kansas City award winners were:

-Best Adaptive Re-use Merit, The Corrigan Station renovation
-Best Adaptive Re-use Honors, the Westport Commons (former Westport Middle School) renovation
-Best Preservation Practices, the Sea Horse Fountain Ward Parkway renovation
-Contemporary Design in a Historic Context Excellence, Wurster House renovation, Mission Hills.
-Contemporary Design in a Historic Context Honors, Messenger Coffee/Ibis Bakery renovation, 1624 Grand Blvd.
-Contemporary Design in a Historic Context, Merit, 414 Oak St. renovation.
-Neighborhood Stabilization Honors, 18th & Vine Revitalization.
-Neighborhood Stabilization Merit, Wornall Homestead Neighborhood for NCOD.
-Outstanding Work by a Craftsperson Excellence, RETROPROS Historic Renovations.
-Outstanding Work by a Craftsperson Honors, Plasterkraft.
-Richard Nadeau Award, “The Nelsonhood,” Rockhill and Southmoreland Neighborhoods.
-Jane Flynn Award, Anita Dixon for the UNESCO designation of 18th & Vine
-George Ehrlich Award, Steve Paul, author of “Hemingway at 18: The Pivotal Year That Launched an American Legend.”

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