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Mac Properties is Back With New Plan at Main and Armour

No Incentives, No Affordable Housing Set Aside in New Plan

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Above image credit: Mac Properties plans to completely renovate the US Bank building at Main Street and Armour Boulevard into retail, office and residential space as part of a much larger streetcar-oriented project. (Kevin Collison | CityScene KC)

Mac Properties has revived its big residential development plan at Main Street and Armour Boulevard, and this time it won’t seek the incentives that prompted the City Council to kill the original deal last January.

The Chicago-based developer has filed a rezoning request for its property at the southwest corner of Main and Armour. It still calls for renovating the US Bank building and building two mid-rise apartment buildings next to it.

Dropped from the original proposal, however, is a plan to renovate the old New Yorker apartment building at 3521 Baltimore Ave. as affordable rentals. It also scraps building two smaller apartment buildings at Armour and Baltimore.

While the overall project has been reduced from 385 to 325 apartments, it still would be the largest residential development along the planned streetcar route. It’s also near the planned streetcar stop at Armour.

Peter Cassel, Mac director of community development, declined to comment other than to say that briefings on the revised plan are scheduled for Nov. 9 at the Midtown KC Now business association and the Old Hyde Park Neighborhood Association.

“Right now, we’re not saying anything,” Cassel said.

Chicago-based Mac Properties has been a huge player developing apartments along the Armour Boulevard corridor in Midtown for more than a decade.

The firm has redeveloped 28 buildings, many of them historic former apartment-hotels, and has built or is building several new ones along a 15-block stretch from Broadway to Troost Avenue that will soon total 2,000, mostly market-rate, apartments.

Mac also recently opened two of four apartment buildings it’s developing at each corner of Armour and Troost in a 340-unit development called The Crosswalks.

The 52-unit Westover apartment building opened last summer at the northeast corner of Armour Boulevard and Troost Avenue.
The 52-unit Westover apartment building opened last summer at the northeast corner of Armour Boulevard and Troost Avenue, the first of the four-building The Crosswalks development by Mac Properties. (Kevin Collison | CityScene)

But Mac’s original $100 million plan for developing Main and Armour ran afoul of the City Council’s ongoing struggle to address the affordable housing challenge in the city.

At the time Mac’s project was proposed, city development policy mandated new projects seeking tax incentives set aside 10% of its units for people making up to 70% of median income, and 10% “extremely” affordable units for people making 30% of median income.

While Mac’s initial proposal met those requirements, the firm said it needed a $10.5 million cash subsidy over 20 years to make the project work financially.

The money would have come from part of the surplus revenues generated by the Midtown TIF established to build Costco and Home Depot a generation ago in an arrangement championed by district Councilwoman Katheryn Shields.

But a majority of council members, under pressure by the KC Tenants housing activist group, balked at that request, deciding that money should be transferred to the City Housing Trust Fund they established in 2018.

The New Yorker apartments at 3521 Baltimore Ave. rentals.
Mac Properties’ original development plan had called for renovating the old New Yorker apartments at 3521 Baltimore Ave. as affordable rentals. It’s no longer included in the revised plan. (Kevin Collison | CityScene)

After the vote, Mac said the proposal was dead.

But in a move similar to another project that was rejected over the affordable policy, Lux Living’s riverfront apartment plan, Mac has returned. This time the plan doesn’t seek an incentive request and, at least with the New Yorker, no affordable housing units.

The revised Mac project only is seeking a rezoning for the property.

In the intervening period, the council has abolished its earlier 20% affordable housing requirement after development applications froze to a standstill following its implementation.

Its new policy requires 20% be reserved for people making up to 60% of area median income.

Mac’s renewed interested in developing its Armour and Main project comes at a time when developer interest in the planned Main Street streetcar corridor remains strong.

Last week, VanTrust Real Estate acquired the two-acre McGilley Funeral Home property at 20 W. Linwood Blvd. While the big development firm has no immediate plans, it does contemplate ultimately developing a residential project there.

Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.

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