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Mark Twain Tower, Major Preservation Project, Opens to Residents in August

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2 minute read

By Kevin Collison

The 23-story Mark Twain Tower, one of downtown’s biggest historic preservation projects, is scheduled to begin accepting residents in August following a $60 million renovation that was slowed by the Covid pandemic.

The building at 11th and Baltimore has been converted to 222 market-rate apartments by The Bernstein Cos. of Washington D.C. and will be called The Mark. It will include retail on its ground level. It also features a large ballroom that will be available for events.

“We are underway now with pre-leasing,” developer Phil Aftuck said in an email. “We are finalizing an agreement with someone to operate the fifth floor pre-function space and ballroom specifically.

“We already have had many inquiries from groups seeking to book their holiday parties and weddings for the later half of this year.

“We are also finalizing street level retail leases now along Baltimore and 11th Street and that process is being handled by Copaken-Brooks.”

The tower opened in 1923 as the Kansas City Athletic Club and a large share of its space was devoted to a ballroom, gymnasium, swimming pool, squash and racketball courts, and other fitness uses.

The two-story ballroom was preserved as part of the redevelopment project. (Photo by Phil Aftuck)

It was designed in the Late Gothic Revival style by the Hoit, Price & Barnes architectural firm. In 1938, the building was renamed the Continental Hotel.

It remained a hotel until the mid-1970s when it was converted to an office building. During the late 1970s, it housed the Kansas City Playboy Club. The last office tenant moved out in early 2018.

The redevelopment project was approved for tax incentives in 2018 by a city development agency and interior demolition began in 2019. The Covid pandemic, however, caused a significant slowdown and work didn’t resume in earnest until March 2021.

“Our general contractor, RAU Construction and their team of subcontractors have done a great job so far and we are very excited to open our doors officially very soon,” Aftuck said.

The Mark Twain project ranks with the 31-story KC Power and Light Co. Building (1931), the 36-story Fidelity National Bank and Trust Building (1931), the 30-story Commerce Tower (1965) and the 21-story Traders National Bank Building (1962) as major historic preservation projects downtown.

Rendering of the lobby of The Mark apartment development. (Rendering from The Mark marketing materials)

The Bernstein Cos. also is pursuing a renovation plan for the 13-story former AT&T building at 500 E. Eighth St. that calls for it be renovated as a 265-unit apartment project. That building opened in 1973.

The Mark project will feature a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments.

“From the striking exteriors of this classic high-rise tower to the warm and soothing interiors enhanced with quality finishes and modern comforts; The Mark is a luxury apartment living experience designed with you in mind,” according to marketing materials.

Studio layouts will range from 363- to 615 square-feet with monthly rents from $1,050- to $1,700. One-bedrooms range from 543- to 1,770 square-feet with rents from $1,370- to $1,770;

Two-bedrooms, range from 678- to 1,577 square-feet, rents from $1,770- to $2,850, and three-bedrooms, range from 1,228- to 1,843 square-feet, rents from $2,630- to $3,300.

About 100 parking spaces have been reserved for residents at a nearby garage off Tenth Street. Spaces will rent for $100 per month.

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