Mac Properties Revives Big Armour and Main Project Without Incentives

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Mac Properties proposal calls for renovating the US Bank building at Main and Armour into retail, office and residential space.

By Kevin Collison

Mac Properties has revived its big residential development plan at Main and Armour, and this time won’t seek the incentives that prompted the City Council to kill the original deal last January.

The Chicago-based developer has filed a rezoning request for its property at the southwest corner of Main and Armour. It still calls for renovating the US Bank building and building two, mid-rise apartment buildings next to it.

Dropped from the original proposal however, is a plan to renovate the old New Yorker apartment building at 3521 Baltimore as affordable rentals. It also scraps building two smaller apartment buildings at Armour and Baltimore.

While the overall project has been reduced from 385 to 325 apartments, it still would be the largest residential development along the planned streetcar route. It’s also near the planned streetcar stop at Armour.

Peter Cassel, Mac director of community development, declined to comment other than to say that briefings on the revised plan are scheduled for Nov. 9 at the Midtown KC Now business association and the Old Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.

“Right now, we’re not saying anything,” Cassel said.

Mac Properties has been a huge player developing apartments along the Armour Boulevard corridor in Midtown for more than a decade.

The 52-unit Westover apartment building opened last summer at the northeast corner of Armour and Troost, the first of the four-building The Crosswalks development by Mac Properties.

The firm has redeveloped 28 buildings, many of them historic former apartment-hotels, and has built or is building several new ones along a 15-block stretch from Broadway to Troost that will soon total 2,000, mostly market-rate, apartments.

It also recently opened two of four apartment buildings its developing at each corner of Armour and Troost in a 340-unit development called The Crosswalks.

But Mac’s original $100 million plan for developing Main and Armour ran afoul of the City Council’s ongoing struggle to address the affordable housing challenge in the city.

At the time Mac’s project was proposed, city development policy mandated new projects seeking tax incentives set aside 10 percent of its units for people making up to 70 percent of median income, and 10 percent “extremely” affordable, 30 percent of median income.

While Mac’s proposal met those requirements, the firm said it needed a $10.5 million cash subsidy over 20 years to make the project work financially.

The money would have come from part of the surplus revenues generated by the Midtown TIF established to build the Costco and Home Depot a generation ago in an arrangement championed by district Councilwoman Katheryn Shields.

But a majority of Council members, under pressure by the KC Tenants housing activist group, balked at that request, deciding that money should be transferred to the City Housing Trust Fund they established in 2018.

The Mac original development plan had called for renovating the old New Yorker apartments at 3521 Baltimore as affordable rentals. It’s no longer included in the revised plan.

After the vote, Mac said the proposal was dead.

But in a move similar to another project rejected over the affordable policy, Lux Living’s riverfront apartment plan, Mac has returned. This time without an incentive request and at least with the New Yorker, no affordable housing.

The revised Mac project only is seeking a rezoning for the property.

In the intervening period, the Council has abolished its earlier 20 percent affordable housing requirement after development applications froze to a standstill following its implementation.

Its new policy requires 20 percent be reserved for people making up to 60 percent area median income.

Mac’s renewed interested in developing its Armour and Main project comes at a time when developer interest in the planned Main Street streetcar corridor remains strong.

Last week, VanTrust Real Estate acquired the two-acre McGilley Funeral Home property at 20 W. Linwood. While the big development firm has no immediate plans, it does contemplate ultimately developing a residential project there.

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