SomeraRoad Finds Path to West Bottoms, Proposes 1,200-Unit Redevelopment

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The derelict Weld Wheel Building at 933 Mulberry would ge demolished and replaced with new apartments in a redevelopment plan being pursued by SomeraRoad.

By Kevin Collison

New York-based SomeraRoad is proposing a sweeping redevelopment of a 26-acre section of the West Bottoms, the latest out-of-town developer to see opportunity in that long overlooked quadrant of greater downtown.

The firm has filed an initial multi-phase redevelopment concept with the city that calls for eventually adding 1,211 residential units over a 10 year period starting in 2025.

While its first phase includes the demolition of the derelict Weld Wheel building at 933 Mulberry, the developer intends to also renovate several buildings and have the area designated a landmark district.

“Our vision is to increase density in the West Bottoms while preserving the historic fabric of this one-of-a-kind neighborhood,” Basel Bataineh, a SomeraRoad principal, said in a statement.

“We envision a vibrant, mixed-use live, work, play stay district that will celebrate the city’s birthplace.”

SomeraRoad wants to redevelop a roughly six-block area of the West Bottoms north of 12th Street between Hickory on the west and Santa Fe on the east. (Image from SomeraRoad)

According to a traffic study filed with the City Planning Department:

–Phase 1 would include 278 apartments, 131,000 square-feet of retail, 121,200 square-feet of office, and a 50-room hotel.

–Phase 2 would include 547 apartments and 14,000 square-feet of retail.

–Phase 3 would include 279 apartments, 4,000 square-feet of retail and 63,165 square-feet of office.

Details about the redevelopment plan’s potential financing could not be determined. Officials at key city agencies where the developer would likely seek incentives said they have not been contacted about the proposal.

Bataineh declined to comment beyond information contained in a press release announcing the proposal.

In finding the West Bottoms, SomerRoad is following a trail blazed by Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins, builder of The Yards apartments near the Livestock Exchange Building, and Cleveland-based MCM Co. which has renovated several historic warehouses along Ninth Street into an apartment project called West Bottoms Flats.

The SomeraRoad redevelopment area is in the middle of the Bottoms, a roughly six-block site bound by 12th Street on the south, Santa Fe to the east, Hickory to the north and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the north.

One of the historic buildings included in the West Bottoms redevelopment area proposed by SomeraRoad.

In its release, the developer said its plans center around a large public space that would serve for public gatherings. It added the plan calls for preserving several of the district’s “beloved” historic buildings, the removal of dilapidated structures and new construction.

“We hope to work very closely with the city and local stakeholders to ensure this is done the right way,” stated Bataineh.

SomeraRoad also has opened an office in the West Bottoms at 1215 Union Ave. The firm has hired Spencer Sight, who’s done redevelopment in the Crossroads, as the head of its Kansas City office.

The New York firm is no stranger to downtown Kansas City, having recently completed the renovation of the former City Square Center office tower at 11th and Main into what’s called lightwell, at a cost of about $85 million.

It also purchased and renovated the 3Y office building at 300 Wyandotte in the River Market.

The SomeraRoad redevelopment proposal calls for the project to be completed in five phases between 2025 and 2035. (Map from SomeraRoad)

In pursuing its West Bottoms redevelopment, SomeraRoad has hired New York-based S9 Architecture and the local office of HOK Architecture and Design.

The firm also has brought in the Kansas City Design Center, a collaborative education project between Kansas State and the University of Kansas, as an advisor. Its students have done several redevelopment studies of the West Bottoms over the years.

“I’ve been studying the West Bottoms for decades and I’m pleased to see a developer sensitive to the identity of the place and its community, and ready to preserve the historic context,” Vladimir Krstic, director of the Design Center, said in a statement.

The press release also cited support from the Downtown Council, which recently released its strategic vision for greater downtown.

“Our Imagine Downtown KC 2030 Strategic Plan encourages the redevelopment of the West Bottoms to retain its historic character, while creating public space and increasing connectivity across downtown,” Bill Dietrich, president and CEO, said in a statement.

“We commend SomeraRoad for working to meet that vision.”

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