Published May 12th, 2023 at 11:30 AM3 minute read
By Kevin Collison
Port KC is seeking proposals for a big mixed-use development that could add hundreds of apartments, hotel rooms and commercial space to the riverfront, and address its need to provide parking for the new women’s professional soccer stadium.
The request for proposals (RFP) is seeking submissions for what’s called Parcel 9, a five-acre development site across Berkley Parkway from the Kansas City Current soccer stadium now under construction.
“This site is tucked between I-29, the railroad and the primary road through Berkley Riverfront,” Jon Stephens, Port KC president and CEO said in an email.
“With its accessible location and high visibility it has long been envisioned as a site for more dense multipurpose development…The site is ideal for high-rise development.”
As part of its 50-year lease agreement with KC Current to build its 11,500-seat stadium, Port KC committed to providing 2,000 parking spaces for the facility. The stadium is scheduled to open next year.
The RFP requires developers to submit proposals that would provide 1,000 spaces initially in a garage available to soccer fans and others at market parking rates. At full build out, the project would have to include a minimum of 1,500 paid, garage spaces for public use.
“While Port KC is not required to build structured parking for the stadium, doing so on Parcel 9 will create development opportunities for other riverfront parcels that would otherwise be used for surface parking,” Stephens said.
In addition to the parking, the RFP wants respondents to propose a development with a mix of a minimum of 350 residential units, 10,000 square-feet of retail space, 100,000 square-feet of office and/or a 200-room, non-corporate boutique hotel.
The reason behind the hotel limitation is because Port KC is “restricted from selling, leasing or providing any financial incentives for a corporately owned or franchised flagged (hotel) facility prior to August 23, 2024,” according to the RFP.
Requiring a developer to include 1,500 public garage spaces in a project, even if paid, could complicate the financing of any potential proposal and likely require incentive help.
“We are committed to making the riverfront a mass transit, multimodal first development, but parking will be necessary as a component,” Stephens said.
“We want to make certain that we only develop the minimum parking needed, and that it is built in a way this is most beneficial and cost-effective to public benefit.
“We will be exploring various ways to create this asset and the associated development looking at parking revenue to fund before considering any other sources.”
The agency’s RFP also is on a tight timeline.
The RFP was released a week ago and the deadline for responses is June 5. Contract negotiation with the selected developer is scheduled to begin June 22. The project is expected to start work this Fall.
The proposed project would be on the last available development parcel in the riverfront area controlled by Port KC and would cap a remarkable redevelopment boom on what until a decade ago was vacant land and Berkley Park.
Beginning with the 410-unit Union at Berkley Park apartment project and the Bar K café and dog park, both opening in 2018, a stream of new investments added the 348-unit CORE apartments last year, and the $30 million Origin KC hotel now under construction.
Lux Living also has proposed a 250-unit apartment project next to the CORE development and Port KC recently announced the Origin hotel operators will run an 8,200 square-foot beer garden in Berkley Park.
Port KC also is in the process of establishing a streetcar development district that will help fund the planned three-quarter mile extension of the streetcar from the River Market to the midpoint of the south edge of Berkley Park near the soccer stadium.
Both the streetcar extension and a new pedestrian-bicycle bridge paralleling the Grand Viaduct from the River Market to the riverfront are expected to be completed in 2025.
In its RFP, Port KC emphasizes the parking requirement is non-negotiable, underlining its importance to fulfilling its obligation to the KC Current stadium.
“There is no scenario under which Port KC will accept a proposal that provides for less than the minimum parking deliverables contemplated by this RFP, and any such proposal will be summarily rejected as non- responsive,” it states.
The future of Parcel 9 has been connected to KC Current even before the stadium project was announced. In 2021, the location was proposed to be the site of the soccer club’s training facility.
KC Current decided however, to built it in Riverside.
Landing the stadium on the riverfront however, has only fueled more interest in the area, according to Stephens.
“After decades of neglect, we finally have some momentum in reclaiming our riverfront as a vibrant diverse community,” he said.
“The world-class KC Current Stadium is a jewel that has helped accelerate development and reinforced our commitment to a multimodal and walkable riverfront.”