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The New subURBAN Lifestyle


Downtown Kansas City is experiencing tremendous growth. New construction projects dot practically every street, and traffic to the new, hot neighborhoods is increasing regularly. What used to be empty lots or rundown buildings are now high-rise apartments or mixed-use buildings. Once a neglected and rundown area, people are now flocking to the city’s hottest part of town. While it seems somewhat sudden, the construction industry has witnessed this shift coming and initial investors are reaping the rewards of getting in early. Fortunately, there continue to be new “it” areas developing, which is good news to the people investing, designing, and constructing.

A Shift in Mindset
“Today’s younger generation is less enamored with the concept of owning their own home,” said Kevin Collison, co-founder and editor of CityScene KC, an online publication dedicated to reporting on the changes in downtown Kansas City. “The same can be said of the older population who might be looking to downsize and who are ready to move away from the responsibility of home maintenance. These days, more people are looking to live an urban lifestyle.”

The walkability and easy access to entertainment and great food appeals to many people. This is the case for many metropolis areas, Kansas City included. Not only can downtown and the neighboring areas offer a more vibrant living experience, it also makes people feel more connected with the history of the city. In Kansas City, new and renovated buildings are cropping up in the historic West Bottoms, also known as the Stockyards, offering excellent living, working, and dining options. As one of the oldest parts of Kansas City and what put the city on the map, the West Bottoms area is steeped with history. It also suffered from years of neglect after a series of unfortunate events which turned the once thriving district into an abandoned part of town.

The Yards Apartments, a new luxury apartment building, broke ground in the West Bottoms neighborhood in March of 2018. The 262,000-SF building will feature 231 luxury apartments, more than 5,000 SF of retail, and a 325-space parking garage.

“The Stockyards appealed to us because we believe this is the next booming area of Kansas City,” said Ryan Cronk, vice president of development at Flaherty & Collins.

“It’s great to see these old areas being revived,” said Marty Hoffey, business development manager at MW Builders. “As a Kansas City-metro resident, I love that we get to work with our partners to improve these forgotten parts of town. It’s fulfilling being part of the growth of our city.”

Urban Amenities
One of the draws to suburban life is the easy access to everything. In order to attract residents, downtown neighborhoods offer accessible goods and services, in addition to the urban environment that the audience was looking for.

Downtown is the ultimate mixed-use environment. Many apartment buildings offer first-floor retail to support the area’s foot traffic and maximize living space in the city center. In addition, new construction and building renovations must be creative in how they support the area’s population. Grocery stores, gyms, dining, entertainment, office space, and retail — the businesses that support both those who work and live downtown — can capitalize on limited space while encouraging economic growth.

The amenities offered by apartment buildings must appeal to those looking for a home in the city. City dwellers may not want a yard to take care of, but they still want green space to enjoy. In the Riverfront neighborhood of downtown Kansas City, the Union | Berkley Riverfront apartments set the bar for modern apartment amenities like pickleball courts, a salt water pool, and a doggie relief area on the rooftop. They also boast an on-site barista and bike bar with several beers on tap.

“We saw potential in the riverfront area because of its quick access to highways, as well as its connection to nature with views of the river and lots of green space,” said Cronk. “We designed the space with the residents in mind and made sure to include the amenities that they were seeking.”

Staying On Trend
Public transportation can have a big impact on the viability of growth in urban neighborhoods. While in many big cities, this infrastructure is already in place, in Kansas City, the KC Streetcar has been a big part of improving the focus and development of the downtown area. An extension is already approved by area voters; however, additional federal funding is needed to supply the rest of the money for the development. Despite its uncertain future, the Main Street corridor has seen an uptick in attention in preparation for the new route. Many businesses and investors already recognize the opportunity along the track and are planning either renovations or new construction to capitalize on the foot traffic the streetcar is expected to bring.

“It’s an exciting time for Kansas City,” said Hoffey. “And we’re very proud that we’ve played a part in the advancement of our city.”