August 21, 2014
From The Kansas City Business Journal

By Rob Roberts

Downtown’s residential renaissance will continue with construction of three new apartment projects totaling as many as 688 units.

The projects, all being developed by Indianapolis-based Cityscape Residential, received 25-year property tax abatements Thursday by unanimous votes of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority board.

Jim Thomas, a Cityscape principal who is originally from Raytown, said construction will begin in January on all three projects. They are scheduled to be completed in 18 to 24 months.

The projects, which will cost a total of $125 million to develop, include two in the Quality Hill area: the 130-unit Apex on Quality Hill near 10th and Jefferson streets, and the 258-unit Summit on Quality Hill near 12th and Pennsylvania Streets.

Cityscape and affected taxing jurisdictions negotiated payments in lieu of taxes for those projects that will reduce the effective 25-year abatement amounts to an average of 50 percent for the Apex on Quality Hill improvements and an average of 58 percent on the Summit on Quality Hill improvements.

The PIEA board also approved a 25-year abatement with an effective average rate of 70 percent for Cityscape's 275- to 300-unit Crossroads West project southeast of Interstate 35 and Southwest Boulevard.

Thomas, who has worked on $350 million worth of Kansas City-area apartment developments during his career, called the Crossroads West site “the hardest site I’ve ever worked on in 25 years.”

It will require demolition of two vacant structures, utility easement relocations, and building around three billboard easements and a West Pennway flyover, said Roxsen Koch, a Polsinelli PC lawyer representing Cityscape.

Shirley Helzberg, who has developed projects in Quality Hill and on Downtown’s west side, said the city was fortunate that someone like Thomas was taking on the projects.

“Not only will he build them, he will manage them,” Helzberg said. “They will be cared for, and they will be there to stay.”

City Council members Jim Glover and Jan Marcason also spoke in favor of abatements for the projects.
“When we continue to make Downtown a good place to live, good things follow,” Glover said.

Marcason added that she was proud to see the city reaching its downtown housing goal with the addition of projects like Cityscape’s.

The goal is for Downtown’s population to hit 40,000, which would double the current population and achieve a key benchmark: 2 percent of the metro population. Bill Dietrich, CEO of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, said the Brookings Institution has determined that populations of that size are able to sustain downtown residential communities and the retail that serves them.

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