By Kevin Collison
An entire city block along the strategic 18th Street corridor between the Crossroads and 18th & Vine Jazz District will be offered soon for development by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.
The block on the north side of 18th between Troost and Forest is currently a greenfield and is expected to be pitched by the authority as a potential residential project with lower-level commercial space.
Its potential redevelopment would help realize a long-time city goal of better connecting 18th & Vine with the Crossroads by encouraging development in the corridor.
“Crossroads is booming and pushing this way and we know the city has double-downed on 18th & Vine,” said Brien Starner, director of economic development for the KCATA. “We’re the largest property owner in this area.
“We are the key catalyst to help development migrate between the Crossroads and 18th & Vine.”
The decision to seek developers for the property is part of a big push by the transportation authority to become more aggressive in using its property to stimulate redevelopment, said Robbie Makinen, president and CEO.
“Our new slogan next year will be KCATA drives development,” he said. “We’re looking to drive redevelopment, ridership and relationships. By getting into development, we can help the community and drive ridership.”
The KCATA already has a contract with Briarcliff Development to pursue an office project on a parking lot the agency owns at Third and Grand in the River Market.
Recently the agency board voted to shift its downtown transit center at 10th and Main to a new site in the East Village, a move that will open that key property in the heart of downtown for either potential park space or development.
The vacant block along 18th street northeast of Troost is next door to the agency’s headquarters at 1200 E. 18th St. Makinen said at one time, the property had been considered for industrial use.
But as his agency has beefed up its development arm, it has set its sites higher. Starner was formerly the head of the Blue Springs Economic Development Corp.
Makinen said his agency has discussed the development of the block with top city officials and expects to seek proposals from private developers soon. The likely use of the land would be for a residential project with office or retail space on the lower floor or floors.
He added there is the potential for federal assistance if part of the project is used for transit purposes.