By Kevin Collison
Construction is underway on the $65 million West Bottoms Flats apartment project, the biggest investment to date in the historic warehouse district that until now has been the domain of low-key users such as antique dealers, artists and haunted houses.
On a blustery, rainy day last week, about 50 people gathered under a tent erected in an alley between two of the massive brick buildings for a kickoff ceremony.
“This was the original city of Kansas City and its maintained that authenticity,” said Melissa “Missy” Ferchill of Cleveland-based MCM Company.
“Our goal is not to change that, but to be part of it.”
MCM is renovating three historic buildings on the north side of the West Bottoms: the Abernathy, 1501 W. Ninth St.; the Liberty, 912 Liberty, and the Wyoming, 925 Wyoming, into 265 market-rate apartments.
The Bemis building at 937 Wyoming will become a 201-space garage.
Council members Kathryn Shields and Lee Barnes were among those in the audience for the event.
“What we need in Kansas City and particularly the West Bottoms is this kind of development,” Shields said.
Barnes, who is a member of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority board that approved tax incentives for the project, described it as a “good development, adding the incentives were essential to closing the financing gap to make the project viable.
Huntington Bancshares of Ohio is the lead bank. The architect is BNIM and Rau Construction is the contractor.
While south area of the Bottoms, the so-called Stockyards District, recently has attracted large investments, including the $39 million Hy-Vee Arena project, and a $41 million, 232-unit apartment project called The Yards, the massive brick industrial buildings on the north side have proven a bigger challenge.
The Abernathy and Liberty Buildings were historically home to the Abernathy Furniture Company. The Abernathy dates to 1880 with additions in 1890, 1900 and 1905. The Liberty was built in 1900.
The Wyoming and Bemis Buildings were historically home to the Bemis Bag Co. The Wyoming was built in 1904 with an addition in 1910, and the Bemis was completed in 1920.
The West Bottom Flats units will range from smaller “micro-apartments” renting at under $1,000, to one-bedroom units going for $1,200- to $1,300. There also will be some two-bedroom apartments as well.
Residents will have valet parking in the old Bemis building. Because of its interior layout, elevators will be installed to hoist cars to their parking spaces.
Other amenities will include courtyards, rooftop patios, bike storage, bocce ball courts, grilling patios and an outdoor theater. The project also includes 10,000 square feet of retail space.
Ferchill praised city officials and development agencies for their cooperation in moving the West Bottoms Flats project forward, describing it as the best public-private partnership her firm has experienced in projects around the country.
“We think it’s really cool down here and we’re excited to be part of it,” she said.
Work on the project actually began in October.
The first apartments are expected to become available by the end of this year and the entire development is expected to be completed by March 2020.
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