By Kevin Collison
A pleasant Saturday afternoon coupled with the growing buzz about urban living brought throngs of people downtown to check out open houses at 20 residential projects.
This year’s Urban Homes Tour, part of the Downtown Dazzle holiday event, reached its limit of 1,250 pre-registered visitors several days in advance, and many more who didn’t register enjoyed exploring the downtown apartment life as well.
“We have a big crowd looking to jump into downtown living and everybody’s in a good mood,” said Mike Hurd, marketing director for the Downtown Council.
Hurd was at the registration table at the Visit KC offices, the starting off point for the tour. Visitors picked up maps and grabbed a cup of coffee before heading out. This year’s registered attendance far surpassed the 850 people last year.
“Downtown has reached a point where people are hearing about and there’s great curiosity,” Hurd said. “This year, so many residential units are open that it’s been in the news and people are just curious.”
Hundreds of new apartments have opened downtown this year alone, with many more in the pipeline. Developers attribute the residential demand to people who want to live in a walkable environment.
That’s what drew 23-year-old Natalie Barnes of Overland Park. She was checking out the downtown living scene with Aaron Melcer, 24, who already lives downtown at the 909 Walnut building.
“I’m looking for a place in the upcoming months,” she said. “I’m interested in downtown because you’re able to walk everywhere. There are gyms, the Cosentino grocery store, it’s just nice to walk around and not take a car everywhere.”
Melcer said the environment suits his style.
“There’s a young atmosphere and you have the Power & Light District, restaurants and lots to do, and the streetcar,” he said.
David and Pam Kirkpatrick were in from Kearney where they live on an 8-acre property.
“It requires a lot of time, and as we get older, we find it more interesting to come to the city for shows and restaurants,” said 55-year-old Pam.
“I can see us keeping what we have and finding something small in the city so we don’t have to drive back.”
Chris Mitchell, 34 and Melissa Morris, 32, moved to Kansas City six years ago from Fresno, Calif. and already have a place in the River Market. They were enjoying seeing the other residential options downtown.
“Since we moved here, the area has grown up so much with new developments,” Morris said. “It’s great to see.”
The Urban Homes Tour was organized by the Downtown Council, Visit KC, the city, Crown Center and the Power & Light District. Hurd said Christina Boveri, a well-known downtown real estate professional, helped line up the properties that opened for the tour.