Published January 19th, 2023 at 12:30 PM3 minute read
By Kevin Collison
Mac Properties’ ambitious plan for a 10-story apartment and retail complex at Main and Armour received crucial support Wednesday from a City Council committee, one year after its initial proposal for the site was rejected.
In a unanimous vote, the Council Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee endorsed what’s now a 300-unit project with retail on the ground floor next to a planned streetcar stop.
The plan is scheduled to be considered by the full Council today where it’s expected to be approved. It has the support of Mayor Quinton Lucas, City Manager Brian Platt and Councilman Eric Bunch who’s district includes the project.
The development committee had delayed its vote about a month ago because of strong neighborhood opposition. Residents were concerned about its potential negative impact to on-street parking in the area.
In response, Mac reduced the number of units at what it’s calling the “1 West Armour” development from 318 to 300. It will have 191 on-site parking spaces for its residents and retail customers.
The committee also added an amendment requiring Mac to “inform” future tenants to not park on surrounding streets. It would be a voluntary decision for tenants however, because the city would not enforce it.
The development 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.
“We are thrilled to have the unanimous support of the committee and look forward to bringing some of Kansas City’s best apartments to one of Kansas City’s best neighborhoods,” Peter Cassel, Mac director of community development, said.
The positive committee recommendations caps an almost two year effort by Mac to build 1 West Armour.
The project was first proposed in August 2021 as a 385-unit development that would have included affordable housing.
But a year ago, the Council balked at approving the tax incentives requested for that larger project, bowing to housing activist demands that the affordable housing subsidy for the Mac project be shifted instead to the City Housing Trust Fund.
At that point, Mac officials pronounced the project dead.
The firm returned in October however, with a revised version of the proposal that did not include a request for tax incentives. But the new development plan also did not include affordable units.
That new proposal was endorsed unanimously by the City Plan Commission in early December despite neighborhood objections over parking.
The Plan Commission’s recommendation was considered a model for future transportation-oriented development along Main Street that would benefit from the streetcar and as a result, need less parking.
Still, the issue of neighborhood parking remained a continued sticking point at the Council committee meeting.
“However you play the numbers, still there’s the issue of parking capacity in Old Hyde Park,” said Nadja Karpilow, president of the neighborhood association.
“Without a doubt, this new development will contribute to further congestion and competition for street parking spaces.”
In another nod to the neighborhood, Mac said it would open up six parking lots at its other developments in the nearby area for anyone to park. Cassel did not have an estimate of how many surplus spaces could be available and at what cost.
The long-term solution to the neighborhood parking issue is expected to be addressed by city staff. What is anticipated would be a permit system that could be enforced by the city for residential streets all along the Main Street streetcar corridor.
“Old Hyde Park is not the only neighborhood that’s dealing with this issue, we’re getting questions already from neighborhoods up and down Main Street,” said Mario Vasquez, assistant city manager.
“There is mounting pressure on our end to begin to to develop a plan that can begin to answer these questions and provide some certainty for residents and any other investors in the city.”
Kevin Klinkenberg, executive director of Midtown KC Now, said his organization of property and business owners have been working in recent years to address a parking strategy for the area.
“There is a real interest on everybody’s part to talk about parking management solutions in Midtown and especially near the streetcar line,” he said.
“We’re concerned about it. We think we can be smart and plan better for it. If we’re lucky, we’re likely to see a lot of redevelopment projects along Main Street as the streetcar gets built.”
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 that will soon total 2,000, mostly market-rate, apartments.
Cassel appreciated the willingness of city officials to continue working with his Chicago-based firm over the past couple years to come up with an acceptable project at Main and Armour.
“It’s been heartening,” he said.