By Kevin Collison
The historic Oglesby Hotel near 39th and Troost is being preserved and renovated as an affordable apartment project thanks to its good neighbor, St. James Catholic Church.
The 130 year-old, Queen Anne-style mansion will find new life providing 25, one-bedroom apartments renting for $650 per month. Eight units will be eligible for KC Housing Authority low-income housing vouchers.
“The impetus of this whole thing was that our rectory at St. James was getting calls from people looking for places to rent and didn’t have much money,” said Mike Waldeck, who helped raise money to buy the derelict property in 2016.
The mansion was built at 3930 Troost in 1891 by W. Chaffee Whitehead, a wealthy real estate developer.
It was sold in 1911 to Courtney H. Rauk who converted it into the Olgesby Hotel and added a three-story addition to the back. But for the past 30 years or so, it has set vacant, a blighting presence in the neighborhood.
St. James is located behind the old hotel at 3909 Harrison and the parish has been engaged in social justice ministries for many years. The Oglesby also is next door to the Bishop Sullivan Center, a Catholic social outreach center.
Ross Beaudoin, the former deacon at St. James, said he became intrigued with the idea of renovating the old hotel into affordable housing before he retired in in 2013. It took years of patient negotiating however, before the owner agreed to sell the property.
About a half-million dollars was raised to purchase the property and begin taking steps to redevelop it. The 3930 Troost Foundation associated with St. James was established to be the landlord.
Brian Collins of Dromara Development was hired to be the development consultant. Collins was the first director of the Kansas City Economic Development Corp. when it was established in 1987.
“I’ve walked through a lot of old, historic buildings to look at, and it (the Oglesby) was one of the best,” he said.
The old building retains many of what Collins described as beautiful, tiled bathrooms and the mansion still has its original woodwork and ornate staircase. All of those historic interior features will be restored.
The historic consultant for the project is Rosin Preservation. The developer is DowCon Development LLC and the housing development tenant is 3930 Troost LP.
The entire renovation project will cost $6.9 million. About $2.4 million is coming from state and federal historic tax credits, another $1.8 million from the state low-income housing tax credit program and another $1 million from a city housing program.
The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) also assisted by creating a “footprint” (single property/single project) Urban Renewal Area and awarding a 10-year property tax abatement.
The remainder of the funding is from private sources, including a $400,000 private donation.
The redevelopment is expected to be completed in mid-2022.
Beaudoin noted the future Oglesby Hotel Apartment residents will be able to take advantage of services nearby including the Bishop Sullivan Center, a thrift store, daycare center and major bus stop.
He’s hopeful other organizations will step up to provide much-needed affordable housing in the city.
“In my heart, I hope this jumpstarts somebody else to find a building they can restore,” Beaudoin said.
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