Published February 16th, 2023 at 12:11 PM
Mac Properties was endorsed for tax incentives for its 300-unit apartment development at Main Street and Armour Boulevard by the RideKC Development Corp. committee Wednesday.
The agency is an arm of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) and has become a major player providing incentives for projects that meet its description of what’s called transit-oriented development.
On a split 4-2 vote, the RideKC Development committee supported Mac’s request for its 1 West Armour project at Main and Armour. The project is located by a planned streetcar stop.
If approved by the full KCATA board, it would provide a 15-year, 75% property tax abatement and a sales tax exemption on building materials for the project.
The Mac application for incentives to RideKC was controversial and opposed by KC Tenants, an affordable housing activist group.
The 1 West Armour proposal, which was initially made by Chicago-based Mac in 2021, calls for several 10-story buildings along Main and Armour, and the renovation of the existing US Bank building at the corner. It’s expected to be completed in 2026.
The original plan called for 385 apartments and included renovating the adjoining historic New Yorker building. As part of is incentive request, Mac sought a $10.5 million cash subsidy from the city to include affordable housing in the development.
That plan, which also was opposed by KC Tenants, was defeated by the City Council in January 2022.
Mac then returned to the city last October to seek rezoning for its revised proposal. An incentive request was not part of the city rezoning application.
Peter Cassel, Mac director of community development, acknowledged that application created an impression Mac was no longer seeking incentives for the project.
“I didn’t want to correct anybody,” he said.
(Editor’s note and correction: CityScene reported in October the project was no longer seeking incentives.)
Cassel said the rezoning, which was approved by the City Council last month, was obtained to move the development plan forward.
“We wanted to have a clean land use vote at the city,” he said.
In the meantime, Mac had submitted an application for incentives through the RideKC START (Sustaining Transportation and Investing Together) program last October. That application was not heard until Wednesday.
Brien Starner, RideKC Development executive director, said his board was assured Mac had not sought incentives from the city or its development agencies after the original $10.5 million subsidy request was turned down early last year.
“We don’t want to be shopped and don’t want to be an agency that goes through a process again that was rejected,” Starner said.
Cassel said the financial viability of the 1 West Armour project always relied on incentives. He said the rent level for market-rate apartments in Midtown is significantly less than downtown and the Country Club Plaza.
“It’s simple economic reality,” he said. “Between construction costs and the discounted Midtown rents, the project won’t happen without incentives. It’s just not viable.”
The KCATA has used the START program to provide tax incentives to another major apartment project on Main. Last July, a 385-unit apartment development near 31st and Main planned by Northpoint Development was approved for incentives.
Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.