KCATA Backs Two Big Transit-Oriented Apartment Projects

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The Jamestown Square apartment development would wrap around the old Scotford Building (center) at 3932-34 Bell St. briefly owned by Harry Truman. (Rendering by Helix and SixTwentyOne)

By Kevin Collison

The KCATA has jumped into transit-oriented development in a big way, approving bonds this week for two apartment projects totaling $190 million that could receive up to a 75 percent property tax reduction over 20 years.

The board accepted what it describes as a public-private partnership with Northpoint Development, which is proposing a $130 million, 385-unit project near 31st and Main, and Milhaus, which is planning a $60 million, 256-unit project near 39th and State Line Road.

“(The) approval of these two TOD projects represents the culmination of more than three years of policy development and strategy work by KCATA to build a more effective regional transportation system,” Daniel Serda, chairman of RideKC Development Corp. board, said in a statement.

“We look forward to demonstrating how TOD facilities like these can work to achieve KCATA’s goals of adding more riders, residents and transit- accessible jobs and housing to our region.”

The bonds were issued through the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority’s new START (Sustaining Transportation and Investing Together) program.

NorthPoint Development wants to build a 385-unit apartment project at the current site of the old Trinity Lutheran Hospital complex. (Rendering from RideKC Development application)

It also will provide the developers with a full sales tax exemption on construction materials, with a small reimbursement based on a formula. In the case of the Northpoint and Milhaus projects, the KCATA will receive $1,500 for every $1 million in sales tax exemption.

As in other development programs managed by the city, the properties will continue to pay the existing property tax.

“The balance of net new taxes will be collected and shared as community benefit payments for the remaining 25 percent per START Policy distributed to all associated tax jurisdictions,” according to a press release issued by RideKC Development.

“For RideKC Development Corporation to recommend a facilities project to the KCATA board, the project must meet strict TOD benchmarks, all which serve to make the best use of the region’s current and future transportation system.

“Additionally, any developer who partners with KCATA on a project must make additional commitments to facilitating public transportation, such as rider and driver amenities, public/private parking options, and improved transit shelter accommodations.”

The START program also requires developers to make an “impact payment” to the city for the infrastructure costs related to the project.

The KCATA also is negotiating with developers for a potential 20-story, residential and office tower at 10th and Main. That transit-oriented development is being pursued by a team led by Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate on property formerly used as a transit center.

The NorthPoint residential proposal is a half block from the planned streetcar stop at 31st and Main.

The Northpoint apartment proposal was considered eligible as a TOD development because of its proximity to the planned 31st street streetcar stop and location on major bus routes.

The Jamestown project would be next door to the KU Medical Campus and also is on major bus routes. There also is a study underway looking at the potential of extending the streetcar down 39th street to KU Med.

Milhaus also will sponsor a couple of bus shelters and maintain them on the city’s East Side, according to the START agreement.

The Jamestown apartment development was proposed in early 2021 and was approved by the City Council in March.

The apartment development is planned for what’s now a parking lot serving businesses on 39th and State Line Road, and would preserve the historic Scotford apartment building at 3932-34 Bell St. that Harry Truman had a brief ownership stake in 1921.

The market-rate apartment project would wrap around a 360-space garage that would include 125 spaces to replace those lost to the businesses along with parking for the apartment residents. Six spaces also would be reserved for Scotford residents.

The Jamestown Square project would replace this surface across State Line Road from KU Med.

The Northpoint “The Residences at 31st and Baltimore” development is proposed for the prominent, five-acre site of the old Trinity Lutheran Hospital complex by Penn Valley Park.

The project would solve a couple major headaches from a previous developer: the partially-finished Park Reserve condo project that’s left dozens of owners in the lurch, and the empty, derelict Trinity Lutheran complex.

The plan calls the old hospital to be razed and replaced with a six-story apartment project with 385 units, the acquisition of 12 unsold condos, spending $1 million to certify the remaining 90 condos for occupancy, and renovate the 420-stall hospital garage.

Another 40,000 square-feet of space at the site could become a mixed-use plan, and NorthPoint also plans to work with the Rehabilitation Institute on a potential solution to activate its corner at 31st and Main at the planned streetcar stop.

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