By Kevin Collison
One of downtown’s most historic and architecturally impressive buildings, the Scarritt, has been purchased by a Florida developer who plans to renovate it as a 193-room Wyndham Grand hotel.
The 11-story Scarritt office tower at 818 Grand and its adjoining four-level Arcade, which has its entrance at 819 Walnut, were completed in 1907 and currently are mostly vacant. It’s also one of the few remaining large historic buildings left downtown.
It was purchased last week by Augustine Development Group from St. Augustine, Fla., and will be redeveloped along with Sunflower Development Group of Kansas City. The development entity for the project is Axis KC LLC.
The estimated cost of the redevelopment project is $50 million. The developers would like to begin work by mid- to late 2020.
The Scarritt complex was designed by Root & Siemens and is considered the finest example in Kansas City of the Chicago School architectural style championed by Louis Sullivan. Its exterior features richly decorated terra cotta ornamentation.
The property previously has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
“We’re excited to partner with Augustine Development Group to rehab one of the most beautiful historic buildings in downtown Kansas City,” Mark Moberly, Sunflower director of development said in a statement.
The developers intend to seek state and federal historic tax credits to help finance the project. No decision has been made on what, if any, additional local tax incentives might be pursued.
Plans call for the building to be renovated as a hotel along with 20,000 square feet of co-working space, two full-service restaurants and a rooftop sky lounge.
“At Augustine Development, we take great pride in our adaptive reuse projects,” George Bochis, CEO, said in a statement.
Sunflower has had extensive experience with historic preservation projects, it’s latest being the $65 million renovation of the historic Traders on Grand office tower into The Grand luxury apartment development.
“Sunflower has a long history of breathing new life into Kansas City historic properties and we look forward to revitalizing the Scarritt, with its ornate exterior and breathtaking lobby and ballroom, into an amazing hotel property,” Moberly said in a statement.
The developer has identified a number of parking options close to the project but has not yet determined the final solution.
In an interview, Moberly said the planned hotel should command some of the top rates in the downtown hotel market when completed.
The Wyndham Grand is being proposed at a time when more than 2,400 new hotel rooms are in the downtown pipeline, including the 800-room Loews convention hotel scheduled to open next spring.
Moberly believes the increased convention business should fill the rooms at the major convention hotels, and create a “ripple effect” as people such as business and leisure travelers search for rooms.
“We (Sunflower) understand the hotel market and we believe a rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.
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