Historic U.S. Courthouse in Downtown Kansas City Redeveloped into Apartments

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor The redevelopment of the former Kansas City downtown federal courthouse into an apartment building is complete. The Kansas City Star reports Mayor Sly James participated in the inaugural ceremony which marked the completion of a grueling redevelopment that started five years ago. James describes it as a unique environment and [...]

The redevelopment of the former Kansas City downtown federal courthouse into an apartment building is complete. The Kansas City Star reports Mayor Sly James participated in the inaugural ceremony which marked the completion of a grueling redevelopment that started five years ago. James describes it as a unique environment and situation as not many cities have the chance to transform a landmark courthouse into living space.

The historic U.S. Courthouse, located at 811 Grand Boulevard, opened in 1939 and was vacated in 1998 when the Charles E. Whittaker U.S. Courthouse was completed nearby. In 2004, a plan that had emerged earlier to renovate the 256,000 square-foot building into a “metropolitan enterprise cente,r” fell through when the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School planned relocation crumpled.

In 2006, approval was given to Alexander Co. of Madison, Wisconsin to redevelop the building into affordable rental lofts, but the recession took a toll on the primary financial backer of the project, Wachovia Bank, in 2008.

The financial boost that was needed came in 2009, when U.S. Bank came forward with $24 million to buy the federal and state historic tax credits and the affordable housing credits issued by the state of Missouri.

The building is now known as the Courthouse Lofts, and it began leasing last summer and currently has only 31 apartments vacant. The rents range between $555 and $730 per month.

The Downtown Council has established a goal to double the area’s population, which currently is estimated at around 17,000, within the next few years. Troy Schulte, city manager, says a strong demand for market-rate apartments exists, but developers have struggled to meet the demand downtown. The City is evaluating options to reduce costs for new housing, such as helping assemble land, reducing parking requirements if the project site is in close proximity to the proposed downtown streetcar line, and offering an automatic 10-year, 100 percent property tax abatement for projects located in older parts of the city, such as downtown.

Photo Courtesy of http://courthouse-lofts.com