Published April 27th, 2022 at 11:09 AM
UPDATE: A local historic landmark designation application has been filed by the City Council members Katheryn Shields and Eric Bunch for the properties at 31st and Main streets. The council members issued this statement: “These are significant buildings which contribute to the historic integrity of Main Street. We had to act, and we hope to avoid the need to resort to such strong actions in the future.” The application puts a temporary hold on any demolition until the Historic Preservation Commission has dismissed or denied the application for designation, or until the City Council has denied designation, according to a statement from Historic Kansas City.
A group of historic, but unprotected, buildings at the northeast corner of 31st and Main streets are going to be demolished soon, according to their owner, with no plan yet prepared for the redevelopment of the site.
Doug Price of PriceMgmtCo said he intends to raze the properties, including the 134-year-old Jeserich Building at 3041-45 Main within 30 days and ultimately plans to redevelop the site with a “dense” project.
“The city wants density along the (streetcar) rail and we’ll deliver,” Price said.
The developer added his redevelopment plan may not be determined for a couple years. He plans to wait until the streetcar extension is operational, which is expected in early 2025.
“I need to see the light rail live in action to determine the future of 31 Main,” Price said.
None of the buildings have local landmark protection, and therefore are not protected from demolition. They are among the buildings in the “Main Street Corridor” category included by Historic Kansas City on its 2019 Most Endangered List.
Last Thursday, a wrecking company filed for what’s called a “pre-demo inspection permit” for the four commercial buildings at 31st and Main. That permit is still being reviewed by city staff.
The day before, Historic KC issued an alert that the buildings were about to be demolished. The other major structure is a building at 3035-37 Main that once housed Lutfi’s Fish. It was built in 1905.
The preservation organization noted a federal study conducted during planning for the streetcar extension on Main concluded the buildings were eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
“These historic resources tell a unique and important story, define the development history of the community, and provide tangible reminders of the past that create a unique sense of place,” Historic KC said in its press release.
It added that Price had not discussed its plans for the corner with the Union Hill neighborhood. Historic KC said the neighborhood was hopeful that at least the Jeserich would be saved and incorporated into whatever project is built there.
The Jesserich building opened in 1888 as a corner drug store. The properties were acquired last year by PriceMgmtCo.
“The Union Hill neighborhood … would like to see as much of the original corner preserved as possible, especially the Jeserich Building which ties in with the predominantly Victorian aesthetic of the adjacent residential area,” Historic KC stated.
Lisa Briscoe, executive director of Historic KC, could not be reached for comment.
Kevin Klinkenberg, executive director of Midtown KC Now, an organization that markets and maintains that stretch of Main Street, said the preferred redevelopment would include keeping the Jeserich intact.
“I’d love to see that building incorporated into a future development, but I wouldn’t be surprised it’s demolished,” Klinkenberg said. “We don’t have much historic fabric left in the neighborhood.”
Price, however, doesn’t plan to spare the Jeserich from demolition.
“I have no intention of working with the corner building,” he said.
Price added he was working with Mayor Quinton Lucas to come up with a redevelopment plan.
“The city wants density and I’m going to deliver,” he said.
Lucas could not be reached for comment.
In addition to 31st and Main, PriceMgmtCo also is building a 102-unit, co-living residential development at 44th and Belleview called West Plaza Flats.
Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.