August 04, 2017

Two Light Going Up — and Leasing Up — Fast

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Two Light, the second of four high-rise apartment towers that The Cordish Cos. plans to develop within its downtown Kansas City Power & Light District, celebrated a milestone on Friday.

The developer and JE Dunn Construction Co., its general contractor for the $120 million project at 14th and Walnut streets, hosted a “topping out” ceremony to celebrate completion of the highest point of the 24-story, 296-unit apartment building.

Topping-off ceremonies also generally correspond with roughly 75 percent completion of a high-rise project.

Dirk Schafer, president of JE Dunn’s Midwest Region, said the hoisting of an evergreen to the top of Two Light on Friday morning was part of a tradition that dates to ancient Scandinavia.

The tradition was embellished on Friday by the hoisting of not only the tree but also an American flag and a banner signed by many of the 791 construction workers who have been employed on the job site since Two Light’s groundbreaking in March 2016.

“This is an opportunity for us to thank the men and women who have worked on the project,” Schafer said, pointing to the crowd of workers clad in hard hats and high-visibility vests who gathered to observe the ceremonies.

Nick Benjamin, Baltimore-based Cordish's executive director for the entertainment district, said that Two Light leasing began nine months ago and that 20 percent of the 296 studio through two-bedroom units have been rented thus far.

“It’s really picked up recently, with four or five units being leased each week now,” Benjamin said.

Therefore, Benjamin expects Two Light to lease up at the same clip as 315-unit One Light, which was 80 percent leased when it opened and hit full occupancy five months later.

Two Light, scheduled to open in June 2018, is achieving leasing success despite a top-of-market average lease rate of $2.30 a square foot — considerably higher than the $1.85-a-foot rate that the 25-story One Light tower opened with in December 2015.

Benjamin said the success of One Light and Two Light have corresponded with Downtown’s success in building its residential population.

“A little more than three years ago, we gathered for the groundbreaking of One Light,” Benjamin reminded Friday’s topping-out ceremony crowd. “We all felt bullish about Downtown at the time. But I don’t think many of us could have predicted that we could grow this much, this fast over that three-year time span. ...

“Since the One Light groundbreaking, the downtown population has grown from 21,000 to 26,000, and we are rapidly on our way to 33,000 by the end of 2019.

“We’re also about to add 2,000 new hotel keys Downtown, including the Loew’s convention center hotel. Those are big numbers, and our pace of growth now matches any other downtown in the country — pretty good for a downtown that just 10 years ago was only growing wig shops and strip clubs.”

Bill Dietrich, CEO of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, said that to be precise, Kansas City now has the sixth-fastest-growing downtown in America.

“By investing in creative, innovative, culturally rich living experiences like Two Light, we invest in our future,” Dietrich said.

Part of One Light’s and Two Light’s appeal, Dietrich said, is that they sit “at the vibrant intersection of the Power & Light and Crossroads Arts districts,” allowing residents to “experience all downtown Kansas City has to offer.”

Designed by Baltimore-based Hord Coplan Macht Inc., Two Light also offers its residents an unparalleled amenity package, Benjamin said.

“One of our calling cards as developers is the quality and scale of our amenities,” he said, “And we think our interior designer, Rebecca Jones (of Baltimore-based RD Jones Interior Design + Architecture), has outdone herself on Two Light.

“With more than 15,000 square feet of interior amenity space and a 15,000-square-foot outdoor amenity deck, with an infinity-edge outdoor pool, an indoor spa, an entertainment kitchen, club room, indoor-outdoor party room, indoor-outdoor bar, a dog grooming station and a quiet lounge, Two Light is as amenitized and luxurious as any apartment building in the country, or world for that matter.”

Benjamin said Two Light will blend “a contemporary glass tower with a limestone and masonry base evocative of Kansas City’s history.” Besides its 296 units, the 500,000-square-foot tower will include a 438-space garage, 15,000 square feet of office space and 3,100 square feet of boutique retail and dining spaces. Its 15,000-square-foot eighth-floor amenity deck will include a floating sundeck overlooking 14th Street where tenants will be able to sip signature cocktails from a full-service bar.

Schafer said the completed project will include 23,000 cubic yards of concrete, 14,000 tons of rebar embedded in the concrete, 6,000 individual exterior glass lights, 225,000 pounds of duct work and electrical wire that, stretched out, “would reach from here to Missouri’s second city (St. Louis) on the other side of the state.”

Located at the southeast corner of 14th and Walnut streets, Two Light will be joined by Three Light at the southwest corner of that intersection in the not-so-distant future.

“Our plan is to start construction of Three Light within a few months of completion of Two Light,” Benjamin said.