Lance Carlton initially was skeptical of developing east of Troost Avenue, he said.
“But the mentality of the market has changed,” said Carlton, co-managing partner of UC-B Properties, which brought its offices to the 4300 block of Troost in August 2016.
Residents are coming back from areas surrounding the urban core, and many of them are young professionals, said John Hoffman, Carton’s father-in-law and co-managing partner of UC-B Properties.
“Over the years, it has proven that this new generation of people don’t care about the stigma of Troost,” Hoffman said, referencing the corridor’s reputation as the city’s economic and racial barrier.
The team is partnering with Milhaus, an Indianapolis-based developer, to again test that theory with a $24 million, 185-unit, market-rate residential project at 27th Street and Troost.
“We know the location, and we know who we think the kind of renter might be here. So we want to try to keep this on the more affordable side,” said Brad Vogelsmeier, director of development at Milhaus. “Obviously, there are a lot of apartments being built or rehabbed in Kansas City right now, some more expensive than others. Our goal is to right-size this, and still build a nice, new, class-A type unit, but without as big of a price tag as you might find downtown, on the Country Club Plaza or other places. That’s not the location that Troost is. It’s not the renter who wants to be over here.”
Check out the rest of Startland’s six-part series on new development on Troost Avenue, a historic racial and economic barrier in Kansas City.
Part II: Troost Coalition
Part III: Wonder lofts
Part V: Food startup Village
Part VI: Troost Collective
The project is a combination of seven, three-story, walk-up buildings featuring a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, Vogelsmeier said.
“We’re smart enough to realize that on these bigger projects, we need more manpower, more equity,” Carlton said of partnering with Milhaus on 27th and Troost. “And we have the same vision, both from where to develop and in their aesthetics and design. They really value architecture. It’s not like we’re going to design a building and then take that design and use it in 20 different locations. That’s what they do out in the suburbs.”
Kansas City residents value historic neighborhoods and walkability, Carlton and Hoffman said, which they hope is reflected in the intentionality of the project’s design, which came from Kansas City’s Draw Architects. The goal is to blend the look and feel of 27th and Troost into the surrounding community, including Beacon Hill.
The development includes 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of commercial space, which UC-B and Milhaus agree would be best suited for a specific neighborhood asset.
“As the population grows, we’re going to need more services,” Carlton said. “If we can get a grocery store, it becomes such a value add, especially when you’re on Troost.”
Clemons Real Estate has been tasked with finding the right tenant operator who could make the concept work, he said. Ideally, that would include a market-style retail operation coupled with a coffee shop, he said.
While the search for that perfect grocery store remains ongoing, the amount of development on the corridor should help Clemons make the case for 27th and Troost, Audrey Navarro, managing partner at the boutique style real estate firm, said. The area has seen significant reinvestment just in the past two to three years, she said.
“There is a real demand for people who want to live and work in an urban environment,” Navarro said.