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Potential River Market Apartment Deal Would Include Affordable Units

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(Updated Aug. 12: The city and Port KC have prepared an updated request for proposals for the City Market property where an apartment development is contemplated:

By Kevin Collison

An approximately 250-unit apartment project that would include affordable housing is being contemplated for a public parking lot northwest of Fifth and Main next to the City Market.

The concept, still in its early stages, involves Flaherty & Collins, a developer that’s already built two downtown apartment projects, The Union Berkley Riverfront Park and The Yards in the West Bottoms, according to a source familiar with the proposal.

The potential River Market apartment development would set aside at least 15 percent of the units as affordable housing, according to the source.

The groundwork for a potential deal already has been submitted at City Hall.

Legislation that would transfer the parking lot from the city to Port KC was introduced this week to the Council Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee. The committee delayed consideration until April 29.

he parking lot shown above may be transferred to Port KC by the city for a potential apartment deal. (Map by City Planning Department)

“Port KC has proposed to develop the subject property to a higher use, which will include the construction of affordable housing, all while preserving the existing parking levels,” according to the proposed legislation.

It goes on to describe the potential benefits as being “vertical development,” adding to the city’s affordable housing stock, generating new tax revenues to the city, providing jobs and serving as a catalyst for additional development.

Port KC would be in a position to provide tax incentives for a potential project, and the site is within the boundaries recently established by the City Council for the authority to assist projects.

Jon Stephens, executive director of Port KC, declined to comment. An attempt to obtain comment from Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins, was unsuccessful.

Flaherty & Collins developed the Union Berkley Riverfront apartments in 2018 on property owned by Port KC.

Port KC already has experience working with Flaherty & Collins. The firm developed its $72 million, 410-unit Union Berkley Riverfront apartment development which opened in 2018 on authority-owned property.

This is not the first time the public parking lot next door to the City Market has been mentioned as part of a residential plan. In July 2017, the lot was included in a larger redevelopment proposal that involved KC Commercial Realty Group.

KC Commercial was proposing to build apartment projects on city-owned parking lots on the southeast and southwest corners of Fifth and Main.

In return, the city was going to use the proceeds to build a 400-space garage to provide replacement parking on the lot now being contemplated for the Flaherty & Collins apartment concept.

The Yards apartments in the West Bottoms were developed by Flaherty & Collins.

There has been no word on whether the earlier redevelopment plan involving KC Commercial Real Estate has advanced in the interim. The KC Commercial executive involved in the deal could not be reached for comment.

If plans move forward, The River Market proposal would be the second attempt in the past year by Port KC to encourage more affordable housing.

A deal proposed by Prairie Fire Development that would have built a 75-unit affordable apartment project on Port KC property near the riverfront collapsed last year after failing to obtain low-income housing tax credits.

(Editor’s note: CityScene KC is now a paid subscription publication, please consider subscribing.)

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