Plan to Redevelop Historic ABC Building on Main Clears First Hurdle

The six-story historic ABC Storage building at 3244 Main and the adjoining former Anderson Electric Car building would be renovated into apartments and commercial space. (Rendering by Exact)

By Kevin Collison

A $13 million redevelopment proposal for two historic buildings near Linwood and Main on the planned streetcar route cleared its first hurdle Tuesday with a development agency approving a blight designation and preliminary plan.

Exact Partners wants to renovate the six-story ABC Storage Building at 3244 Main and an adjoining three-story building at 3420 Main into a 50- to 60-unit apartment project with a rooftop café.

“I agree this is an area we would like to see redeveloped,” said City Councilwoman Andrea Bough, a member of the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

“I do support this project and look forward to what they’re going to bring back to us in a couple months.”

The LCRA approved the blight designation unanimously. The developer still must return to the agency to seek property tax abatements for the project, and the entire plan also must be approved by the City Council.

Bough said the redevelopment is supported by the council members representing the area, Eric Bunch and Katheryn Shields.

The second phase of the Exact Partners redevelopment plan includes building a 132-unit apartment project at the northwest corner of 37th and Main.

The redevelopment of the 114 year-old ABC building and the adjoining building that opened in 1912 as the Anderson Electric Car dealership would be the first phase of a larger plan by Exact to redevelop the nearby block on the north side of Main from 36th to 37th streets.

Exact wants to renovate the historic Kansas City National Guard Armory at 36th and Main into residential and commercial space, and build a 132-unit apartment project at the northwest corner of 37th and Main.

The apartment building would include 10,000 square feet of retail space, according to documents filed with the LCRA. The plan also calls for creating an outdoor patio adjoining the Armory, a 94-space underground garage and 93 spaces of surface parking.

Exact also wants to build eight townhomes behind the Main Street projects on Baltimore Avenue.

The entire redevelopment project, including the ABC renovation, was estimated at about $50 million.

Caleb Buland of Exact has said previously the main floor of the ABC building could be a small grocery store, restaurant or specialty urban retailer such as DGX that sells food and household essentials.

The historic armory building at 3620 Main has been vacant for about 15 years. Exact wants to renovate it into residential and commercial space.

The historic rehab elements of the plan would be exempted from the Council affordable housing ordinance however, Daniel Moye, LCRA executive director, said many of the apartments are expected to rent at 65- to 75 percent of Area Median Income.

“It is good to see the developer already is projecting to have some below 100 percent, 80 percent of AMI units which is what we’ve seen with them in the past,” Moye said.

Exact has been active redeveloping in the urban core renovating the historic Netherlands Hotel and Monarch Storage buildings near 39th and Main into 144 apartments, and the former Wonder Bread bakery at 30th and Troost into apartments and commercial space.

In another matter, Moye briefed the LCRA board about development activity assisted by city agencies during the last fiscal year that ran from May 2021 through the end of April.

He displayed charts indicating 60 percent of projects that received tax incentives through the LCRA, Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (PIEA) and the Chapter 100 program were in the Third City Council District that covers the East Side.

A chart prepared by the KC Economic Development Corp. found 60 of the projects receiving city incentives in the last fiscal year were in the Third Council District covering the East Side. (Chart by the EDC)

The remaining 40 percent of the projects receiving assistance during that period were in the Fourth Council District that includes downtown, Midtown and Northeast Kansas City.

The value of the projects however, skewed toward the Fourth District totaling $294.7 million. The Third District projects totaled $181.5 million. Moye explained that projects in the Fourth tended to be larger and more expensive.

The LCRA exec also pointed out a property tax abatement program his agency offers to home owners living in designated areas. Those incentives were awarded to 113 single-family homes.

“Any homeowner in urban renewal area is eligible for a property tax abatement if they make an investment in their property of a certain level,” Moye said.

“It’s a program that we try to make sure folks are aware of and want to find ways to continue to expand it.”

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  1. Kevin why aren’t some of these projects condominiums? I was told that there was a lot of incentives for condos in the early 2000s which is why some parts of Downtown have quite a few condo buildings. I personally know several couples that would love to OWN in the Downtown/Midtown area that would never want to live in apartments. These folks are forced to look for homes when they would really love a condo lifestyle. What’s the deal?

    • Derek, developers here tell me a couple of things about why they’re not building condos, one is the liability laws which they say allow condo buyers to sue them many years after the project is completed should there be problems, the other is that prices here are not high enough for them to make what they perceive is an adequate profit. A developer only starts making money after selling the last percentage of units. That may change though, as housing costs continue to rise, although construction costs also have gone up significantly.

    • My husband and I bought a condo in the Western Auto building a little over a year ago, and I was asking the same question: Why is everything apartments? It’s pretty frustrating. This is just not a “condo city,” but I wonder if that will begin to change in the future. As of now, you have some not great options downtown, and in West Plaza (many of which are cheaply converted old apartment buildings). That’s….about it. I really, really wanted to stay in Midtown, and don’t particularly like the WA building. But if you want to buy anything in Midtown you also pretty much have to buy an old house (which we had, and also didn’t like that, although we loved the neighborhood). I’m hoping if we stay here a few years, eventually there will be more condos to choose from. Per Kevin’s reply, it’s weird to me that no one in KC wants to build condos, but it seems like that’s ALL you can in most other cities.

      • A few years ago, we decided to downsize from our PV split-level and wanted to by a condo somewhere in the River-Crown-Plaza corridor. It was tough finding places to look at, especially because we wanted some kind of outdoor balcony space which ruled out older buildings. Finally found a great place at Mill Creek Flats, which is between St. Luke’s and the Parkway Tower up the hill from the Plaza. Very excited too, because we’ll only be a couple blocks from two planned streetcar stops. Still, it was a far too arduous process and I really believe there are many people like us who want the urban, walkable environment but want to own, not rent. Perhaps with real estate prices going up, some developers will start to see they can make money building condos here. Time will tell!

  2. I thought there was a plan a few years ago to turn the armory into a food hall. Did those collapse during the pandemic? I’m glad someone is trying to rehab these eye-sore buildings on Main. It’s crazy to me that in one of the main thoroughfares through Midtown there are so many blighted properties.

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