By Kevin Collison
The pioneering 265-unit West Bottoms Flats project is now leasing and its Cleveland developer is so confident about her historic warehouse redevelopment she’s already planning a $25 million expansion.
“We’re very excited about what we’ve done there and we’re excited to expand our concept and create more activity in the Bottoms,” said Melissa ‘Missy’ Ferchill of MCM Company.
Leasing began in March at the residential development which includes 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.
It’s the first big effort to renovate some of the massive late 19th, early 20th Century warehouses in the West Bottoms, once the hub of downtown Kansas City commerce and in recent years a cheap place for artists and antique dealers to thrive.
Thirty-five apartments have been leased so far in the buildings which went up between 1880 and 1920. Ferchill is pleased with not only how the project turned out, but the response so far despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All things considered, we were fortunate to get it done before most of the shutdowns occurred,” she said. “Frankly, we’re thrilled about (the leasing). We feel good about it, especially under the circumstances.”
So good, that MCM plans to expand the project by renovating an additional two building additions on the west end of the sprawling Abernathy along West Ninth Street, adding another 80- to 90 units.
The firm also has a purchase agreement for the 920 Wyoming building with plans to convert it to office and other commercial uses.
The West Bottoms Flats development includes the old Bemis building at 937 Wyoming which was renovated as a 201-space garage for residents.
The project strived to retain the funky flavor of the West Bottoms while also offering its residents modern places to live. Throughout its outdoor common areas, the street art painted on the pre-development structures was retained.
Inside, materials such as reclaimed wood and old stamped-tin panels were used as part of the interior design and furnishings. An old boiler room in the Wyoming building was cleaned up in anticipation a coffee shop might open there.
“We’ve kept it authentic and tried not to change the West Bottoms,” said Greg DeNicola of MCM. “The comment we get is we’re adding to the West Bottoms, not changing it.”
BNIM was the architect and the contractor was Rau Construction.
“The buildings are differently designed and that was intentional,” Ferchill said. “We tried to be empathetic to the original building designs.”
Leasing is being handled by Old Town Development.
There are 69 micro-units, seven live-work units, 123 one-bedroom and 66 two-bedroom. Monthly rents start at $825 for a 312 square-foot micro-unit; $1,050 for a 534 square-foot one-bedroom, and $1,325 for a 634 square-foot two-bedroom.
Rents include parking, water and trash, and each unit has a combined washer-dryer. More information on apartment leasing can be found here.
The West Bottoms Flats redevelopment is opening at the same time another big investment in residential real estate is opening its doors, although a very different approach and location.
The Yards, a 232-unit, new-construction apartment project, recently began leasing on the south side of the Bottoms next door to the Hy-Vee Arena and Livestock Exchange Building.
Ferchill said so far, the strongest interest in leasing at West Bottom Flats has been by people new to Kansas City.
“We’ve gotten strong out-of-town response which we think is interesting,” she said.
“We’re trying to figure out how to attract local folks. We’ve tried to maintain the authenticity of the West Bottoms.”
Don’t miss any downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.