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South Loop Park Could Trigger $685M Investment, 1,200 Apartments

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3 minute read

By Kevin Collison

Copaken Brooks wants to build a $335 million development that would feature a 700-unit, high-rise apartment project north of the T-Mobile Center, according to state tax credit application for the proposed South Loop Project.

The big project proposed for 12th and McGee was disclosed in letters and an economic impact study supporting the South Loop Project filed recently with the Missouri Development Development Finance Board.

The MDFB is being asked to authorize $15 million in tax credits to help finance the South Loop Project. The $200 million-plus endeavor would cap a four-block stretch of I-670  between Wyandotte and Grand with a park.

In addition to the Copaken plan, the letters reaffirmed a proposal by the Cordish Cos. and JE Dunn for a 500-unit, $250 million apartment project on both sides of Main Street between Truman Road and 16th Street.

“JE Dunn has already invested significant capital…and intend to begin development of our properties as soon as possible upon the park reaching its fundraising goals,” Timothy Dunn, chairman, stated to the MDFB.

The location of the Copaken Brooks/Hunt Midwest development are the two blocks in yellow above the T-Mobile Center; the JE Dunn/Cordish plan location are the two yellow blocks below the South Loop Link. (Map from Victus Advisors)

Organizers of the South Loop Project including the Downtown Council, Port KC, the City of Kansas City and private businesses have raised more than $90 million for the park plan. They hope it can be ready for the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer games.

“We remain appreciative of the Downtown Council’s continued excitement and willingness to step forward and assist with the project’s completion by harnessing and facilitating the good will of Kansas City’s philanthropic and business community,” Mayor Quinton Lucas and City Manager Brian Platt stated.

The $15 million in state tax credits are anticipated to generate $30 million in private donations for the South Loop Project. Donors use the tax credits to reduce their state income tax.

The MDFB application included an economic impact study by Victus Advisors which concluded the South Loop Project would attract more than a half-million visitors annually, create 300 permanent jobs and yield $890 million in new economic impact over 30 years.

Victus estimated the higher property values and investment triggered by the park would increase annual revenues for Kansas City schools by $15 million; city, $5.4 million; South Loop community improvement district, $1.2 million; KC Streetcar CID, $827,000, and Downtown CID, $618,000.

The historic Board of Education building at 1211 McGee was demolished in 2020. (Photo by Kate Collison)

As for the new development proposal envisioned by Copaken Brooks, the firm would partner with Hunt Midwest on a high-rise apartment project that would go up on the site of the former Board of Education building at 12th and McGee.

That potential $300 million investment would include 700 apartments and 20,000 square-feet of retail.

The development was alluded to last March in an interview with the city manager in CityScene KC. Platt said the city had offered to provide parking spaces at its Oak Street garage to help the Copaken proposal.

“The city has offered our 1,400 space parking garage as benefit to that site if they want to share parking. We don’t use all those spaces,” he said at the time.

A companion $35 million Copaken development plan for property the firm has long-owned at 12th and Grand by the T-Mobile Center would include 85,000 square-feet of office space and 8,500 square-feet of retail.

“For these reasons, we are very excited about the impact of the South Loop Project,” Jon Copaken, principal of the firm, stated in his letter to the MDFB.

The South Loop Link would deck a four-block stretch of I-670 with a park. (Image from City of Kansas City)

Activating the blocks along 12th Street between Grand and Oak with new residences and retail also could help address a concern regarding a potential Royals ballpark development at the East Village.

Currently, pedestrians coming to the East Village from the Power & Light District area would have to walk through what’s considered a quiet government district dominated by  City and County Halls, and the police headquarters.

Further down the road, Cordish, which recently completed its Three Light apartment tower, is anticipating two more big residential projects in the Power & Light area, a Four Light at 14th and Baltimore, and a tower at 14th and Main above The Yard restaurant.

“The South Loop Project will increase the attractiveness of the Power & Light District to conventioneers and other tourists,” said John Moncke, president of the District. “It will also increase the attractiveness of the District to a variety of targeted tenants.”

In his letter of support to the MDFB, Jeffrey Jones II, president and CEO of H&R Block, said his firm and its foundation’s $10 million pledge to the South Loop Project rely on the state tax credits being approved.

“With your support, the architects and engineers have assured us that construction can proceed in 2024 and the South Loop Project can be open by 2026, just in time for the World Cup,” Jones stated.

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