April 07, 2021

Cordish sets groundbreaking for $140M Three Light, $25M affordable Midland apartments

Construction on the next two Kansas City multifamily developments by Cordish Cos. will get underway over the next several months.

The Baltimore-based developer anticipates a May construction start for Three Light, its long-planned $140.3 million urban luxury apartment building northwest of Truman Road and Walnut Street.

Within a few months, Cordish also will begin a $25 million conversion of the historic former Midland office building into The Midland Lofts, at 1221 Baltimore Ave. next to Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland.

The two projects are linked through 2018 incentive terms between the city and Cordish. The developer committed to build affordable units in the Midland building in exchange for a $17.5 million subsidy for Three Light's parking garage and a 25-year property tax abatement.

Passers-by soon will see workers set up two construction cranes in the Kansas City Power & Light District — "a sign of new growth and energy Downtown, following an incredibly challenging year," Nick Benjamin, the district's executive director and Cordish's managing director of multifamily development, said in a Wednesday release.

"Each of these projects will be an important step forward in getting back to the business of Downtown’s renaissance and will create over a thousand new construction jobs," he said.

The city's Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee on Wednesday advanced pre-development agreements for Three Light and The Midland Lofts, meant to convey previously approved sales tax exemptions on construction materials.

The agreements will let Cordish begin buying building materials before returning to the City Council for approval on development plans and sale-leaseback financing. The City Council will consider both agreements starting Thursday.

Three Light

The 26-story Three Light tower will include 288 studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and penthouse apartments on 19 floors, plus a seven-story garage with 472 parking spaces and 7,600 square feet of first-floor retail space.

At 301 feet, Three Light will stand slightly taller than its compatriots — the 25-story, 307-unit One Light, which opened in 2015; and the 24-story, 296-unit Two Light, which opened three years later.

Both buildings remained at 95% occupancy through the pandemic, the Cordish release said.

Final development plans reflect a slight downsize from a previous Three Light iteration, which called for a $150 million tower, 29 stories or 331 feet tall, with 322 apartments.

At an earlier stage, Cordish had considered building three upper floors with for-sale condo units but decided to move forward exclusively with rental units, Benjamin said in an email.

Three Light's rents will range from $1,200 a month for studio units to $7,000 a month for penthouses, he said. Three Light will reserve 20% of its units are reserved for residents earning up to 80% of the median family income.

The tower's lavish amenities will cover 30,000 square feet, including a deck overlooking 14th Street, an infinity pool, a demonstration kitchen and theater room. A sky bridge will connect Three Light to Two Light over Walnut Street, allowing residents of both towers to share amenity spaces.

Three Light is expected to open in May 2023.

A permit allowing for overhead protection and construction site fencing to be put up this spring has been under review since March 10, when the city received an application from JE Dunn Construction, Three Light's general contractor.

"It’s been a great honor to have built with The Cordish Cos. on such landmark projects that have changed the downtown Kansas City skyline," JE Dunn Vice President Jim Coulter said in the release.

"From the vision the company had with the Power & Light District, to One Light, Two Light and now Three Light Luxury Apartments, we are grateful for the relationship we have with The Cordish Cos. and the impact the company has had on Kansas City."

Hord Coplan Macht is project architect for Three Light, returning as architect from Two Light, with RD Jones Interior Design as interior designer.

The Midland Lofts

Cordish's conversion of the Midland office building will bring online 139 affordably priced apartments, up from 117 previously proposed units. The 12-story Midland Lofts will house approximately 2,500 square feet of amenity and coworking space, plus a 1,500-square-foot rooftop amenity deck.

Built in 1927, the Midland building previously was headquarters for the National Collegiate Athletic Association and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. The site — described by Cordish as an "underutilized historic jewel" — is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Vacant for more than 20 years, the building is directly connected to the Midland Theater and a stone's throw from Cosentino’s Downtown Market, Onelife Fitness and the streetcar, among numerous restaurants and venues.

"The residential renaissance of downtown Kansas City began with historic conversions, and we think it is fitting as we begin this next phase of the renaissance that we are adding both high-rise new construction and a historic renovation of the highest quality to the Power & Light District," said Marnie Sauls, Cordish's executive director of residential management, in the release.

In another departure from prior plans, all of the Midland's apartments — rather than one-third of units — will be reserved for renters earning up to 80% of the median family income. The building will sport multiple open-concept studio and one-bedroom floor plans, with rents starting at $700 a month.

"We are extremely excited to be introducing so many apartment units to the Power & Light District that are priced below $1,000 per month, and we firmly believe The Midland Lofts can be a catalyst for the development of more moderately priced apartment units Downtown, both growing our density and making the community more affordable," Emelyna Aurich, Cordish's director of property management, said in the release.

The Midland Lofts' interior design and architecture will meld the building's history with upscale finishes evocative of Cordish's "Light" buildings, the developer said.

Amenities will include a first-floor coffee bar and entertainment kitchen at the corner of 13th Street and Baltimore Avenue with a fitness center, theater, conference and music rooms throughout the building.

Cordish's conversion is scheduled to begin in the third quarter and wrap up in the fourth quarter next year.

Helix Architecture + Design is the Midland's project architect, and RD Jones Interior Design will be interior designer for the amenity spaces.

View article online here. 

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