East downtown will get $165M investment

What was once the largest bus terminal in the country is getting a new life as a mixed-use project in Kansas City's East Village. Gold Crown Properties will turn the former Pickwick Hotel into a mix of apartments and retail.

With help from the city and Kansas City’s taxpayers, the east side of downtown Kansas City is starting to see the fruits of a $165 million infusion of investment in the form of two multimillion dollar projects. Developers hope it will help activate one of the last frontiers of the city core.

Jeff Kirkdendall is the developer behind the $100 million plan to take the former Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City into a 300-room Embassy Suites. Located at 9th and McGee, the 300,000-square-foot building will also include an 86,000-square-foot technology center on the bottom level, where he’s planning to have the tech infrastructure to be able to host hackathons. The plan also calls for the renovation of the neighboring 150-stall parking garage.

Just across the street at the former Pickwick Hotel, Tom Smith of Gold Crown Properties has spent the last 8 years formulating a plan to transform it into East 9 at Pickwick Plaza. What was once the largest bus terminal in the country is getting a new life, born from Smith’s vision of an apartment building filled with studios.

Units at the Pickwick are starting to take shape. Large windows provide stunning views of downtown.

“Everywhere we went, studio apartments were always full with a waiting list,” he said. “And so I had a dream to build properties with all studio units. But when I first saw Pickwick, I discovered that all the units were already configured that way. Someone had done a low-budget rehab of the building in the 70s, taking two hotel rooms and combining them into one apartment. It was poorly done and a mess, but we took it on. It was our dream and that’s what you’ll see come to life.”

Today, the building is still under construction, but units are starting to take shape. The units are smaller but boast expansive, historic windows. Residents will begin moving into the first tower by November, while the second tower will be ready in the spring.

Units in the Pickwick range from 350 to 1,000 square feet. Pictured above: a flex unit, priced between $895 and $1,200.

The project will boast a slew of amenities, including balconies, open floor plans, secured access, business conference center, coffee and espresso bar, dry cleaning, dog walking, guest and corporate suites, and in-home grocery delivery. The building also boasts a 6,500-square-foot penthouse suite.

Rents appear to average in the $2 per square foot range, depending on the unit. Studios range from 350 to 600 square feet and will rent from $750 to $1,075; Flex studios range from 492 to 545 square feet and rent for $895 to $1,200; One-bedrooms range from 472 to 698 square feet and rent for $925 to $1,600; and two-bedrooms range from 609 to 1,008 square feet and rent for $1,200 to $2,000. Residents will begin moving into the North tower in the fall. (Check out a fact sheet with more details on amenities and rents.)

The lobby of the Pickwick will be brought back to life. Rendering courtesy of Gold Crown Properties.

The building will include a slew of amenities including an upscale fitness center.

Along those same lines, the development team wants to introduce a hotel concept, where companies can rent rooms for their executives that pass through town.

But aside from filling studio units, perhaps the most daunting task ahead of the development team is filling 30,000 worth of retail space on the building’s first floor. Rents start at $15 per square foot, depending on the space, and there are a range of sizes to choose from, from 300 square feet up to 10,000 square feet. Two tenants have already claimed a pair of 1,900-square-foot spaces, but have not yet been announced. (For more information on available retail space, download a brochure.)

The pair of projects account for a chunk of the $6.5 billion of investment Kansas City’s urban core has seen in the last 20 years, according to Downtown Council President Bill Dietrich. It’s also part of the 2,500 units of residential real estate under construction downtown, which will add another 5,000 residents once completed. The Downtown Council has a goal of increasing downtown’s population from 22,000 to 40,000.

The project team includes Helix Architecture + Design and HarenLaughlin Construction.