DNA Development Committee member Scott Harris was able to attend "Development in the Age of the Streetcar," a panel discussion hosted by the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance on April 3. Four panelists discussed their perceptions of the Phase I Downtown Streetcar line and the proposed Phase II extensions, and how each impacts the local read estate and development markets. You can view the development map distributed at the panel here.
Jon Copaken of Copaken Brooks discussed his company's new development at 21st and Wyandotte Streets, a 75-unit multi-family building. Copaken emphasized the amount of new development happening in the Phase I corridor and the abundance of remaining development opportunities.
Longtime River Market developer George Birt spoke about his company's new project, River Market West, a five-story development at 4th and Wyandotte breaking ground May 1. Birt emphasized rent levels required to achieve appropriate density in new developments. A significant cost to developers is the need to build additional parking for residents' automobiles. Birt noted that millennials are increasingly moving into cities in search of a car-free or car-lite lifestyle in which the automobile is no longer an every day necessity. He stated the streetcar is an amenity that these residents value--and that River Market West is only one-block of the Phase I line.
New to Kansas City are Linden Street Partners, a Denver-based development group. Scott Richardson, the firm's managing member spoke on what first attracted the group to Kansas City. Looking at expansion Linden Street visited and evaluated approximately ten cities. They were attracted to Kansas City based on its momentum and the political consensus surrounding the streetcar. Asked if the company would have come to Kansas City without the streetcar project, Richardson stated simply, "No." The group's first project, a 44-unit development on a former surface parking lot at 1914 Main, is directly on the streetcar line. The company anticipates construction to begin in August.
Tom McGee of VanTrust Real Estate provided an update on that company's long-awaited Whole Foods mixed-use project at 51st and Oak St on the UMKC campus. The grocery store has expanded from a proposed 20,000 square foot store to a larger, 40,000 square foot store and now includes an attached UMKC medical clinic. The idea originated with Tom McDonnell founder and former head of DST Systems. McGee noted VanTrust is thrilled to have its project across the street from the proposed terminus of the Phase II Main Street extension.
Optimism runs high among the development community in Kansas City as it seeks to build on its gathering momentum and anticipates the opening of the Phase I Main Street line next year and the possibilities of Phase II.