Everyone is always looking for the next big thing, and in Kansas City real estate, the downtown area is where you’ll find the most risk and reward. Real estate agent Christina Boveri, who calls herself a cheerleader for the urban core, says the area is bursting with potential. “There is a tremendous demand and need for products for sale downtown,” she says. “Apartments are being built in record numbers, but condos and homes that you can buy are in short supply.”
27th & Gillham
Boveri says anything in midtown is a great investment, especially with the KC Streetcar line being expanded to UMKC. Realtor Paul Clem says Troost is going to be where it’s at in the next decade, especially from 39th to 43rd Streets. Investors agree that the savvy risk-taker needs to look for areas that have access to transportation and are close to legacy properties such as hospitals, museums and universities.
John Hoffman, a partner with UC-B Properties, says investors should head east. “In any city that is experiencing growth, like Denver, Nashville or Indianapolis, a lot of the renaissance has been east as development pushes away from the downtown epicenter, and in Kansas City it is logical to go east,” he says. Hoffman also believes that buyers are going to get priced out of the Plaza area, making development further east highly coveted.
This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Kansas City and was known as “Little Italy” due to its large Italian immigrant population. Today its close proximity to the booming River Market area and a KC Streetcar stop is making it attractive to developers. A $70-million redevelopment project initiated by Columbus Park Developers (a group of companies working to revitalize the area) is in the works, and the completion of the Columbus Park Lofts (apartments that address the issue of low-income housing) has invigorated the area. One investor says when she’s deciding on areas to buy into, she looks for the dog walkers. “If I want to know if an area has potential, I always see if there’s people out walking their dogs,” she says. “It’s a sign that a neighborhood is on the rise, and I saw this in Columbus Park.”
Development has started in the area of Troost adjacent to both UMKC and Rockhurst University. UC-B Properties is already working on building and restoring new single-family homes in the area. At the intersection of Troost Avenue and Armour Boulevard, Mac Properties has won approval from the Kansas City Plan Commission to build 450 apartments and add 27,000 square feet of retail space. Clem says the area has momentum, making now the time to buy. “It’s too late to be an early adopter, but you can still get a good deal on real estate that will pay off in the future,” he says.
Hoffman says he began a plan to help neighborhoods in the urban core in 2002, starting with the area around 30th Street and Gillham Road. Now, 17 years later, UC-B is focusing attention on Mt. Prospect. “It’s an extension of the work we’ve done in Beacon Hill,” Hoffman says. “Our plan is to upgrade 31 lots with everything from new sewer lines to utilities and build a small community.” The seasoned developer says all it takes is someone starting to strategically improve an area to pique interest among investors and the real estate community.