Revival of Historic Troost Commercial Block Continues

A rendering of how the former Helzberg jewelry store building at 3130 Troost is expected to look after renovation. It's among the buildings being redeveloped by Clemons Real Estate (Rendering from Clemons)

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.”

Most of the buildings being renovated by Clemons, including the old Helzberg, had been vacant or underutilized as storage for decades.

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.

The group of buildings at 3108-16 Troost including the old Bakers Shoe store are being renovated.

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.

Bakers Shoe store during the heyday of the Troost business district between 31st and Linwood. (Photo courtesy Clemons)

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.

Other major nearby redevelopments along Troost include the Wonder Shops + Flats, and several new apartment developments including the 249-unit, 2501 Beacon Hill project at 25th and Troost.

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.”

Rendering of how the buildings including the former Bakers is expected to appear after renovation. (Rendering from Clemons)

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  1. Kevin, I know you can’t do much about this, but seeing the old Baker’s shoe store there reminds me that I would really love a shoe store in the urban core. Buying shoes without trying them on can be problematic, at least for women, fit and comfort-wise, and I have to travel to Ward Parkway or Zona Rosa now that Bob Jones closed.

    • Joy, understand your frustration, I used to like to walk up to Bob Jones and check out the sales rack when I worked at The Star. I really don’t know why more retailers, like shoe stores, aren’t coming back to the urban core now that so many new residents have arrived. They certainly don’t seem to have a problem opening in sleepy little strip centers in the suburbs. There’s an opportunity there, I’m sure!

  2. Can they try to make the building look a bit more historic? I love that this is happening. Lived at Charlotte and Armour before leaving town. I would move right back to this area if I ever came back.

    • I agree with JE. The rendering of 3116 and the new location of Made in KC are the two ugliest renovations in all of KC. No attempt to blend or improve the quality of these historic areas. Please, let’s limit generic building designs of this “type” to industrial parks. This area deserves so much better.

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