Block Real Estate Services

Sunflower Development: Preserving the past, creating a new future

MARCIA CHARNEY

Sunflower Development Group, founded 13 years ago, has established a niche in redeveloping historic properties. Principal Jason Swords shared with attendees at the Kansas City CCIM Chapter Breakfast on Friday, May 17, 2019, the details of some of its recently completed and current redevelopment projects. Swords showcased The Grand, a transformation by Sunflower Development Group and its project partner, Block Real Estate Services, of the Traders on Grand building, located in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The property, purchased in April, 2016 from Van Trust Real Estate, now features 201 luxury apartment units with high end amenities.

The Grand also features 12,000 square feet of office and retail space. Sunflower Development Group recently relocated its offices to The Grand. Sunflower Development Group worked with the National Parks Service to designate the Traders on Grand building a historic building, making the project eligible for historic tax credits on both the state and federal levels.

Swords said that without the historic tax credits, the project would not work. With a total investment of $69 million, the quality of the amenities and The Grand’s prime location, Swords said he believes the building has another 40 to 50 years of life, “so we believe we’re positioned really, really well.”

Another recently completed historic renovation project is the Blenheim School Apartments, located at 2411 E. 70TH Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri.  Sunflower Development Group acquired the closed Blenheim School through the Kansas City Missouri Public Schools’ repurposing program and transformed the building into 52 affordable/restricted income apartments for seniors 55 years and older. 

After signing the purchase contract, Swords said it took Sunflower Development Group three years to get the federal and state historic tax credits, the federal and state affordable housing credits and other financing in place.   During those three years, the gymnasium filled up with four feet of water creating a mold issue, recounted Swords, “so the building got less expensive the longer we were under contract.” 

The completed project opened in December, 2018 and is approximately 75% leased.   Swords noted that most of the tenants are from the neighborhood.  This is the second  Kansas City, Missouri school building that Sunflower Development Group has repurposed.  It completed a 48 unit affordable senior living project in 2017, the Faxon School Apartments, which is fully leased.

Within the next two months, Sunflower Development Group plans to begin the transformation of the former Valentine Shopping Center, located across the street from the Uptown Theater, into the Uptown Lofts, a 226 apartment unit project.  The project also will contain a retail component.  In addition, Swords noted, Sunflower Development Group is working with Sky Real Estate to convert the historic American Electric Building located in downtown  St. Joseph, Missouri into the American Electric Lofts, which will contain 137 market rate apartments.

Swords wanted to dispel the myth that it’s cheaper to buy an older building and convert it than undertaking new construction.  “Renovating an older property, you’re going to spend more per foot than you would building a new construction,” he said.

Corbion tastes success with new Lenexa North American headquarters and innovation lab

Food ingredient research company Corbion has opened its new 58,000-square foot North American headquarters and advanced laboratory facility at 8250 Flint St. in Lenexa. The new $13 million facility consolidates the company's 200 employees into one regional operation.

Developed by Block Real Estate Services (BRES), the building is less than a mile from Corbion's longtime location at 79th and Quivira and marks the completion of Pine Ridge West Business Park, a flagship development for BRES.

"BRES has been excited to assist Corbion with the development of a new high-end facility in Pine Ridge Business Park,” said Kenneth G. Block, managing principal at BRES. “As a fellow industry leader, Corbion’s commitment to quality and innovation matches BRES’s commitment, which is visible in Corbion’s new facility and the nearby BRES apartment development of WaterSide Residences on Quivira.

The facility includes a state-of-the-art bakery and demonstration kitchen, as well as meat research and application labs. Designed by Finkle + Williams, the building reflects the company's focus on sustainability through local sourcing, clean energy, centralized waste management, composting and recycling programs, according to a release.

The new headquarters and lab will inform the Dutch company's approach to helping create a safe and sustainable global food supply. Corbion has had a presence in the KC region for almost a century.

“We constantly encourage our employees and our customers to ‘Keep Creating,’ because the world urgently needs better solutions to the challenges we face,” said Andy Muller, Executive Vice President at Corbion. “The innovations we help create make a difference in the lives of people everywhere – people just like us. We try to merge our areas of scientific expertise with what we know and care about as consumers so we can develop solutions that make a meaningful impact for everyone, including ourselves and our families.”

Local vendors were chosen for the facility, including food services by Westport Flea Market and beverages by Messenger Coffee and Tea Market.

Block added that Corbion was a good partner for BRES because the companies are aligned both professionally and philanthropically.

“Corbion’s involvement in the community and focus on giving back align with BRES’s commitment to philanthropy which has made this an ideal partnership,” Block said.

Corbion employs a total of 350 in the region.

CityPlace mixed-use project 'tops out' first 120,000 SF office building

Block Real Estate Services, LLC marked a construction milestone for its CityPlace Corporate Centre III office building with a traditional ‘topping out’ ceremony. Anchored by Mediware Information Systems, Inc., the 120,268-square foot building is the first of four Class A office buildings planned for the mixed-use project located at the southwest corner of College Boulevard and Highway 69 in Overland Park.

“We are honored that Mediware selected CityPlace as the home of its corporate headquarters, validating our premier mixed-use development designed for residents to live, work and play for years to come,” CityPlace Developer Ken Block said.

Community members involved in the planning, development and construction of the property, signed the project’s final steel beam before it was hoisted and placed atop the building on August 13.

Constructed by Titan Built, designed by Hoefer Wysocki Architects and developed by Block Development Company, the office building will include a blend of granite and precast panels andreflective glass in a modern design. 

“When we learned about the new construction at CityPlace, we knew we wanted to get in on the ground floor of this project," said Mediware CEO Bill Miller. "As we solidify our position as the leading innovator in health care and human services solutions, we needed a world headquarters that would reflect our vision of powering stronger, healthier communities.” 

Mediware, a leading supplier of software solutions that help health care and human services providers. will occupy floors three and four of the four-story building and has committed to a future lease term of 15 years and four months, beginning in June 2019.

Once complete, CityPlace will feature up to 600,250 square feet of office space, 1,382 multifamily units, 140 senior units, and up to 60,000 square feet of retail space. For more information about CityPlace, visit www.cityplacekc.com. For more information about Block Real Estate Services, LLC, visit www.blockllc.com.

KC developers and brokers weigh in after KC voters clear #NewKCI for takeoff

Kansas City, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved public financing for a new $1 billion single-terminal design for KCI. Local development leaders mounted a warrior-like effort to build the case for a new airport over the past month, educating voters about funding and regional business benefits.

Here’s what some of the region’s leading brokers and developers are saying about the vote:

"The new airport should be a big benefit to Kansas City in terms of business development in tourism. Right now connecting airlines are simply avoiding Kansas City, but in the future Kansas City will see increased connections and increased air traffic, and this will be great for new businesses that want to locate in our community." Ken Block, Managing Principal, Block Real Estate Services LLC

“The new KCI terminal is a very important step to for our metropolitan area to continue to compete and bring new business to the region.” Mike Klamm, Managing Director, CBRE

“A new airport will put us in a position to achieve better connections to other major cities. That’s a must if we expect to attract and sustain Fortune 1000 companies.” Owen Buckley, President, LANE4 Property Group, Inc.

"KCI airport is Kansas City’s 'front door' for both new companies considering a relocation or expansion of their operations. The convenience of direct flights to more destinations will result in more companies locating their central or regional distribution facilities in Kansas City.” -Ora Reynolds, President and CEO, Hunt Midwest

“The city government, civic and business communities put the time in to explain the importance of the vote, and the public responded.” -Jon Copaken, Principal, Copaken Brooks

“I am impressed by the effort of our Kansas City civic leaders. (This is similar to) bi-state or streetcar or other major big momentum changers, but this one is more important. Very big day for KC.” -Mark Long, Executive Managing Director/Principal, Newmark Grubb Zimmer

“This is a great day for the entire Kansas City metro area. The promise of a new KCI will have an immediate effect on our entire community, as we continue our steady ascent up the nationwide ladder of ‘best places to live and work’. Way to go KCMO voters!” -Nathan Anderson, NAI Heartland

“The new single terminal promises to usher in a wide array of new opportunities for the entire region. I’m excited for what that means for our city’s ability to grow and attract new businesses to the area.” –Russell Pearson, NAI Heartland