By Kevin Collison
Seven buildings on the west side of Troost between 31st and Linwood are being renovated for commercial use, continuing a major reinvestment in that key one-block stretch of the historic business district.
Clemons Real Estate is redeveloping the buildings at 3108-16 Troost and 3124-30 Troost, including one of Helzberg Jewelry’s first stores. The properties are across Troost from another group of historic buildings being revived by Midtown Redevelopment Partners.
“There are so many exciting things going on with other developers on this small, one-block corridor,” said Audrey Navarro of Clemons.
“Oftentimes, we see piecemeal renovations with one building, but this is all coming together nicely.”
Clemons Real Estate is a family affair that includes sister and brother, Audrey Navarro and Aaron Clemons, and their father Tim Clemons. Navarro said “great” early investors helped pull the complex project together and ANB Bank of Kansas City and Colorado is the lender.
All of the buildings, which date back to the 1920s and 1930s, were vacant or underutilized and in poor condition when they were acquired. Most had been used for storage for many years and Navarro said it cost more than six-figures just to clean them out.
“We started this project about five years ago,” she said. “All of the buildings were in horrific condition but very salvageable and significant with architectural features that were unique.”
The first building at 3124 Troost already has been renovated and opened earlier this summer. Discussions are underway with potential tenants for the 12,000 square-foot, two-story structure.
Two more are under construction, the former Helzerg building at 3130 Troost and a building at 3116 Troost. Work also is underway on repairing and repaving surface parking lots that serve the properties.
Navarro said a building at 3142 Troost was renovated by her firm and sold about a year ago to Nancy Robinson, who owns a costume and set design firm that does business nationally. About half the building is being used by her company.
The Clemons buildings also are bordered on the north by a parking lot controlled by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.
The KCATA is in negotiations with Milhaus, an Indianapolis developer, for what’s expected to be a 52-unit apartment project on the site with a significant number of affordable units.
The Clemons properties also are around the corner from the historic McConahay Building at 1127 E. 31st St., the home of the Laugh-O-Gram studio where Walt Disney got his start. That building is slated to be renovated into a museum about Disney’s early years.
The Clemons properties are expected to be used for office and retail space. Total value of the firm’s investment is about $5.1 million.
“We hope to end up with mix of businesses opening for the public including retail, a coffee shop and restaurants as well as creative office uses,” Navarro said.
“We’re excited to see this entire quadrant is starting to become vibrant again.”
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