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Proposed Streetcar Extension Lures New Main Street Investments in Midtown

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2 minute read

By Kevin Collison

The 11-story former Netherlands Hotel is slated to be redeveloped into 110 apartments, part of a Main Street development surge linked to the planned streetcar extension.

The decrepit Netherlands at 3835 Main and its neighbor, the former Monarch Storage building at 3829 Main, are part of a more than $30 million redevelopment plan being pursued by Exact Partners.

“We’re trying to create a world that has walkability, density, is connected to the streetcar and stabilizes the corner of 39th and Main,” says developer Caleb Buland.

The Netherlands, also known as the Hawthorne Plaza, has been a prominent eyesore for more than 10 years, says Diane Burnette, executive director of MainCor.

The crumbling facade of the vacant former apartment-hotel posed a safety hazard to pedestrians on Main and vagrants have broken inside.

“This is probably midtown’s biggest white elephant,” Burnette says. “If we can get something to happen here, everyone else will be rewarded.”

The Netherlands was completed in 1927 and the Monarch in 1921. Both are part of the National Register of Historic Places South Side Historic District. The Netherlands was renamed the Hawthorne Plaza in 1982 when it was reconfigured for senior housing.

Buland says Exact Partners already have purchased the six-story Monarch and expect to complete the purchase of the Netherlands this week.

The vacant Netherlands Hotel, also known as Hawthorne Plaza, is a major eyesore on Main Street.

The developer is seeking a 10-year, 75 percent property tax abatement from the city, and already has lined up historic tax credits to help finance the Netherland renovation.

The first phase, renovating the Netherlands into 110 one-bedroom apartments, would begin next spring followed a year later by the Monarch renovation. Plans for the Monarch call for it to redeveloped into 40 condo-style residences.

Exact Partners also is acquiring a parking lot north of the Monarch from a city development agency. It will initially provide parking for Netherlands tenants, but a third phase plan calls for garage with senior lofts above.

Buland says the developers, his partner is Ilan Salzberg of Denver, are considering locating a steakhouse and speakeasy bar on the main floor of the Netherlands.

Neighborhood service-related retail also is planned as part of the redevelopment plan.

The Netherlands and Monarch redevelopment is the latest investment related to the streetcar extension proposal.

Earlier this year, MAC Properties opened an 80-unit apartment project at 3435 Main St. The $25 million, five-story project was built using modular construction.

And last summer, FFV Partnership proposed a five-story, 82-unit apartment project at 3260 Main. Construction of that $16.3 million project is expected to begin early next year.

“Building more residential on a street where people wouldn’t consider living 15 years ago is a big turn of the tide,” says Burnette.

Her organization, MainCor, is the community improvement district established to promote and maintain the Main Street corridor from downtown to the Country Club Plaza.

Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, is enthusiastic about the new development along the proposed extension, but cautions much work remains.

“The streetcar is an attractive catalyst for continued investment along the corridor, but there’s a lot to do before we can complete that project,” he says.

A Transportation Development District has been approved, but federal funding remains a question and last summer, a petition was approved that requires any city funding for the extension project to require a citywide vote.

Exact Partners also is redeveloping two other buildings in Kansas City’s urban core into apartments, the former Wonderbread bakery at 3001 Troost Ave. and the Acme building at 3200 Gillham Rd.

“I like to do urban infill projects that help as a catalyst for the neighborhood,” Buland says.

This article originally appeared on the KCUR public radio website.

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