KC Board Committee supports Crown Center office tower near tram stop


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Image credit above: The tower proposed by Fidelity Security Life Insurance viewed south from Grand Boulevard. (Render | BNIM)

Fidelity Security Life’s 11-story corporate headquarters project on 27 and Main Streets saw its request for the incentive unanimously approved by a city council committee on Wednesday over objections from neighboring Union Hill.

The $ 83.4 development would be located on a 2.7-acre site currently owned by the Crown Center redevelopment and would be the first new office project on the Crown Center campus since the completion of the Shook Hardy & head office. Bacon in 2003.

The 155,000 square foot building would house 300 employees of Fidelity Security Life Insurance (FLS), which is currently headquartered a few blocks away at 3130 Broadway. About 50,000 square feet would remain as speculative office space.

The developer, VanTrust Real Estate, is asking for a 15-year property tax reduction – 10 years to 70%, five years to 30% – and a sales tax exemption on building materials. The tax break was valued at $ 9 million.

Councilor Lee Barnes, Jr., chairman of the council’s neighborhood planning and development committee, said applying for the incentive through the Chapter 100 program was a worthwhile investment.

“We need to have a conversation about the potential for the loss of a viable and strong business that has been in this city for 50 years,” said Barnes.

“That’s what the tool is for, the potential for us to keep a viable business that’s here and even looking to grow. “

FSL’s proposed 2.7-acre office tower site was put up for sale by Crown Center Redevelopment three years ago. (Map | EDC request)

Representatives from Union Hill, however, said the project should not be approved for tax incentives until a more comprehensive design has been considered, saying it did not take full advantage of the planned tram stop at 27th Street and the needs of pedestrians.

There were also objections to the height of the building blocking views of the Liberty Memorial neighborhood, although the property was always considered for a building of this scale in the Crown Center master plan.

“The Union Hill Association enthusiastically supports sustainable, pedestrian-friendly, accessible and transit-oriented development at this site,” said Adam Gebhardt.

“It is disappointing that our hopes are not being met by the proposed projects and we must collectively oppose the approval of the Chapter 100 application and the project plans proposed to date.”

The request for the incentive was also challenged by officials from the Kansas City Public School District and the KC Public Library, saying the incentives would reduce the amount of new property tax revenue available from the project for their jurisdictions during the 15-year term. year.

Kathleen Pointer from the school district also noted that a large portion of the incentive was to be used to build the project garage. The building design provides for six levels of office space above a five-level, 400-space garage.

“The city needs to start requiring developers to enter into a shared parking deal,” she said. “This project is located steps away from an often empty garage on weekdays located on the seller’s property, Crown Center.

Crown Center is selling the development site for $ 6.9 million.

The developer estimated that the project, along with the reduction in property taxes, would generate $ 9.2 million in revenue for the city and tax jurisdictions over the 15-year term of the incentive agreement. Without the project, the property would generate $ 946,000 over the same period.

Attorney David Frantze, who represented the developer, said the clawback provisions in the agreement ensure that FSL’s employee payroll, which averages $ 82,500, and a capital investment is maintained. of at least $ 75 million.

The proposed 15 story Fidelity Security life insurance project at 27th and Main
The proposed 15 story Fidelity Security life insurance project at 27th and Main faces south. (Render | BNIM)

Funding would be $ 20.8 million in equity and $ 62.5 million in loans.

Frantze also said the building’s quality of design and location will earn it rents of $ 45 per square foot, the highest in the city, according to his research.

“What this will do is create a market beyond what currently exists in the city and these increases in income will translate over time into an increase in property values ​​to the benefit of the city and all tax jurisdictions, ”he said.

The design architect for the project is Pei Cobb Freed, a renowned national company, and the local company BNIM is the reference architect. HOK is listed as the tenant architect.

Henry Cobb, founding partner of Pei Cobb, designed the 2600 Grand, a 14-story office tower that opened on the Crown Center campus in 1990. He also designed the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City , which opened in 2008.

That said, a neighbor to Union Hill criticized the design, saying it was more suited to a suburban office park.

“This site is one of the most attractive available in Midtown Kansas City,” said Jim Edsel. “I also argue that the proposed project plan does not keep the promise of the site.

“The proposed project is a more suburban solution to an urban site… I would expect to see this proposed design in Corporate Woods.”

The incentive package is now going to the entire city council for final review, possibly next week. The entire development has yet to be rezoned and reviewed by the Town Planning Commission.

If the final development plan is approved by council, construction would likely begin in early fall 2022 and complete in 22 months.

Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.

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