Published February 12th, 2021 at 10:06 AM
A $162 million redevelopment concept that would energize the historic commercial heart of Troost Avenue by adding apartments, retail, office and an amphitheater is being pursued by Midtown Development Partners.
Tim Bowman, the partnership leader, envisions capitalizing on the art deco character of the historic buildings fronting the east side of Troost between 31st Street and Linwood Boulevard, and creating a destination not only for the neighborhood, but the entire metro.
“We see Troost not as a dividing line, but a meeting place,” Bowman said.
Key elements of what’s being called Troost Village include renovating the historic, former Firestone service station at Troost and Linwood into commercial space, and the historic Belmont Hospital at 911 Linwood into apartments and Airbnb space.
New construction includes a 50-unit apartment building along Forest that would overlook a 1,200-seat amphitheater at the center of the redevelopment block.
Finally, the partners want to construct a new building across Linwood that would recreate the look of the historic Isis Theater, a movie palace at 31st and Troost destroyed by fire decades ago, that would include a grocer, offices, rooftop patio and parking.
At one time, the district was the bustling commercial heart of the Troost district from the 1920s through 1950s. As the neighborhood declined because of the troubled racial history of Kansas City, the buildings became vacant or underused.
“The area has beautiful art deco buildings and we want to celebrate that,” said Jonathan Cole, an architect and owner at Pendulum Studio. “The goal is to bring back that art deco feel and vibe to the community.”
The proposed Troost Village is located amid a wave of recent apartment and commercial investments that have revitalized a stretch of Troost from the Hospital Hill area at 24th Street to Armour Boulevard.
It’s also around the corner from the proposed redevelopment of the historic Laugh-O-Gram building at 31st and Forest, and next door to the RJ Building housing Thelma’s Kitchen.
A group of historic buildings on the west side of Troost between 31st and Linwood also are being renovated by Clemons Real Estate.
Bowman said the major nearby investments encourage him about the prospects for his venture.
“It’s time,” he said. “The neighborhood is growing up. The developers are building it together and rising together.”
Midtown Development Partners already has begun the $18 million first phase of the redevelopment, the renovation of the historic Shankman and Michelson buildings at 3115-3131 Troost, and the Tycor building at 3105 Troost.
The development group, which includes Cole from Pendulum and Ovidiu Pop-Buia, a Florida businessman, received a 20-year property tax abatement from the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority for that project in May 2019.
The Tycor building is slated to be the future home of the Midwest American Indian Museum of the Plains and Woodland Tribes. Office tenants have been lined up for the other two buildings, according to the developer.
The remaining three phases are:
Phase Two: The renovation and expansion of the historic Firestone service station as commercial space and a gym, renovation of the historic Harkness building at 3133 Troost, structured parking and the construction of a 50-unit, market-rate apartment building along Forest.
The apartment building would overlook the amphitheater, which would be use for concerts, outdoor market and other recreational uses. The estimated cost is $60.8 million.
The partners plan to seek city tax incentives, historic tax credits, New Market Tax Credits and federal brownfield tax credits to help finance the plan.
Phase Three: The renovation of the six-story Belmont Hospital. The plan calls for the first two floors to be used as Airbnb space and the upper floors as 99 units of affordable housing geared toward single-parent households.
The proposed project also will include a business and study center in the former hospital chapel, and utilize the former cafeteria and kitchen to provide meals and snacks, staffing it with culinary students.
The estimated cost, including a parking garage, is $33.8 million. The developers will seek a combination of Federal HUD funding, New Market Tax Credits and historic tax credits to help finance the project. The plan also includes a potential parking garage.
Phase Four: The construction of what’s being called the Isis project on the south side of Linwood. It would include a 14,000-square-foot grocery store that would be part of up to 123,000 square feet of commercial space, a 400-space garage and rooftop garden.
The estimated cost is $49.3 million and the developer plans to seek financial assistance from city tax incentive programs and New Market Tax Credits.
A virtual animated tour of the entire Troost Village proposal can be found here.
The tentative timetable calls for the first building in phase one to be completed this winter; the second phase to break ground in about six months and the third phase to begin by the end of this year. The fourth phase Isis plan’s start has not been determined.
While there has been some criticism about the new investments along Troost being a form of gentrification, that description is dismissed by the Troost Village developers.
“I founded my firm 14 years ago and I’ve been looking at those properties and hoping something would be done and nothing has happened,” Cole said.
“Those buildings have been vacant and unoccupied for 40 years. People hate change and love progress. I see this as progress.”
Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues. Liam Dai contributed to this report.