Published May 9th, 2023 at 9:21 AM2 minute read
Cocina47 is back, and this time the restaurant development proposed for 47th and Pennsylvania has returned to its original vision as a three-story project, shedding the controversial six additional levels of condos.
Developer Matt Pennington presented his plan to the Port KC development committee Monday. He is seeking tax incentives to help finance a $33.5 million development that would require the demolition of The Seventh Church of Christ, Scientists.
Pennington first pitched a three-story proposal more than a year ago, but later revised it to add six additional levels for condos. That plan violated the height restrictions of the Plaza Bowl Overlay District and was rejected by the City Plan Commission last June.
Since then, the developer has returned to his original vision, lining up neighborhood support, arranging parking and winning the endorsement of Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, a strong advocate of the Plaza Bowl Overlay District.
The developer, whose firm is Drake Development, said if the necessary approvals are obtained, he plans to demolish the church by the end of the year. He expected to complete the new restaurant development by the end of 2024 or early 2025.
“I met with a lot of surrounding property owners to work out a deal that’s good for everyone,” Pennington told the Port KC committee.
While the new Cocina47 plan still is about seven feet taller than the 45-foot limit in place at the corner, Shields, who sits on the Port KC committee, said the revised design was acceptable.
“I’m very pleased with this design and this project,” she said. “Does it 100 percent meet the 45-feet height limitation? No, but it’s very close to doing that.”
Pennington is asking Port KC to establish an improvement district for the project that would charge a 2% sales tax on customers to help pay for development. The plan calls for three high-end restaurants, one on each level.
The developer also is requesting a sales tax exemption on construction materials.
Pennington is not seeking property tax abatements. As a result, the annual property tax revenue at the site is expected to increase from $38,461 to $460,558. The annual payroll was estimated at $4.65 million.
As for the design, each floor will be set back from the street and include terraces, reducing the scale above 47th Street. The restaurants will share an entrance off Pennsylvania.
“It adheres to the spirit of what we were trying to do with the Plaza Bowl Overlay,” Shields said, “to ensure buildings would be in scale with those around them and the immediacy on 47th street as a pedestrian would be preserved. You wouldn’t feel you’re in a canyon.”
The councilwoman also praised Pennington for arranging adequate parking for the project.
“This is going to be an active, beneficial contributor to the Country Club Plaza,” she said. “I’m very pleased with the agreement we’ve worked out.”
As for the church, the congregation sold the property to Pennington in 2020. While the Romanesque Revival-design brick church dates to 1942, it does not have historic landmark status and has no protection from demolition.
Pennington recently renovated the former Jack Henry building immediately to the west of the site. The upper levels are now a Chiefs Fitness health club, and the lower level is scheduled to open this Fall as an upscale miniature golf venue called Puttery.
Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.