Mac Plans to Renovate Former Red Cross Building Into Apartments

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Mac Properties wants to renovate the former Red Cross building at 211 W. Armour into 61 apartments. (Image from Helix Architecture + Design)

By Kevin Collison

Mac Properties plans to renovate the former American Red Cross building at 211 W. Armour Blvd. into 61 apartments, the latest installment in the firm’s ongoing transformation of the Armour corridor in midtown.

The proposed $11.7 million project would expand the Chicago-based firm’s apartment portfolio along Armour. Over the past decade, Mac has redeveloped 28 historic buildings, creating 1,700 apartments in a 15-block corridor from Campbell Street to Broadway.

Mac also plans to break ground this summer on an apartment building at 520 E. Armour, part of a larger, 450-unit Armour Corners project in the works for the intersection of Armour and Troost.

Charles Renner, the attorney representing Mac, told the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority board the renovation of the vacant Red Cross property into residences was the “highest and best” use for the property.

“This is an important project, not just because of all of (Mac’s) work along Armour, but because of the limited use of offices on the corridor,” he said. “This is moving in the right direction where Armour has been moving.”

The Kansas City Red Cross relocated from 211 W. Armour in mid-February to new space at 6601 Winchester Ave., according to a Missouri Red Cross spokeswoman. The three-story, 56,000 square-foot former headquarters was built in 1945.

Because of the non-profit status of the Red Cross, the property has not been paying taxes to the city and other taxing jurisdictions, Renner said.

Construction is expected to begin by July on this 110-unit apartment building at 520 E. Armour, part of the Armour Corners development planned by Mac Properties. (Image from Helix Architecture + Design)

The PIEA board authorized an analysis and general development plan for the property and to include it in the current PIEA plan, the first step in allowing Mac to pursue its renovation plan.

The project will go through a review by city development agencies before it returns with a specific incentive request.

“We had intentionally left 211 W Armour out of the Armour Gillham PIEA area when originally created at the request of Red Cross,” Peter Cassel, a Mac official, said in a statement.

“As a federally chartered agency, Red Cross did not want to be in a blighted building.

“Now that Red Cross has left the office building and the market has indicated that office is no longer a viable use for the structure, we are going back to the PIEA to amend the plan and include the parcel.”

Renner did say the developer would likely seek a property tax abatement of 10- to 15 years to help make the project financially feasible.

The former Red Cross building at 211 W. Armour has been vacant since mid-February.

No specific plans have been prepared regarding the mix of units or the rents, according to Cassel. He did say the rental rates would be in line with the midtown market. The project architect is Helix Architecture + Design.

Renner said if the necessary approvals are obtained, work on the Red Cross renovation could begin later this year with possible completion in 2020.

As for Armour Corners, Cassel said construction should begin in mid-summer on the 110-unit building at 520 E. Armour.

A revised plan for the larger residential and retail component on the four corners of Armour and Troost is expected to be presented to neighborhood groups soon. Mac has been working to address concerns about the amount of parking.

If all goes well, construction on the Armour and Troost component could begin in spring 2020.

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