Kansas City

EPC's McKeen sees stability in KC multifamily market

By Marcia Charney | MWM Contributing Writer

Stable. Steady. Cautious. Opportunity.

Those are the words Mike McKeen is using these days to describe the state of Kansas City’s apartment market. The principal and president of EPC Real Estate Group, LLC spoke to a record-breaking crowd of more than 150 brokers and real estate professionals at the April meeting of the Kansas City chapter of CCIM

Areas that will continue to succeed in the multifamily market will have “charm, character and are walkable, with jobs in good proximity,” McKeen said, noting that strong players currently include Lenexa City Center, downtown Overland Park, Olathe, Mission; and downtown Kansas City, Missouri, which leads the area in multifamily development. 

The living preferences of Millennials are driving the market. Some of EPC’s current products are Millennial-based, including Avenue 80 in downtown Overland Park, where Millennials comprise 70 percent of the tenant base. Empty nesters, who no longer want to maintain their homes and are seeking to live life a little differently, are another growing tenant segment.  

McKeen discussed how e-commerce is changing multifamily development. With the explosion of package delivery, developers are installing electronic parcel delivery systems, which allow tenants to retrieve packages by entering a security code. McKeen said that without these delivery systems, the buildings would need a massive storage room for delivered packages and staff to monitor receipt and storage.

McKeen said that developers now have to consider for the first time the amenities and unit size that Generation Z wants. He stated that studio apartments are the “quickest thing to fly off our lists right now because they hit a certain price point of affordability but they also cater to that lifestyle of people who spend most of their time playing video games.” McKeen added that the amenity most requested by Gen Z is blackout shades for better game screen visibility. 

McKeen discussed the challenges currently facing multifamily developers which include a decline in the number of skilled craftsmen; the threat of tariffs, causing suppliers to raise prices to offset the impact of possible future tariffs on costs; future tax treatment; the passage of city ordinances which impact the use of development incentives; aging infrastructure; low supply and high demand, particularly for precast concrete products; and rising operating costs.

McKeen also recognized new opportunities for multifamily developers such as the creation of new inventory to meet the demands of Millennials and empty nesters, affordable housing, and opportunity zones. In addition, new product types like micro-units, which range in size from 350 to 500 square feet, are in high demand with rising rents.  

Noting that “site selection is everything now,” McKeen said the average occupancy of multifamily properties in the Kansas City area has remained steady, staying between 93 and 95 percent.  

 

JPMorgan Chase will open full-service bank in former Dean & Deluca space

The former Dean & Deluca space at Town Center Plaza in Leawood, Kan. will find new life as a full-service retail bank, part of JPMorgan Chase's push into the Kansas City market and deeper into Bank of America markets.

The largest bank in the U.S. has signed a lease to expand into the 9,000-square foot former gourmet food purveyor located at the northwest corner of Roe Avenue and 119th Street. An exact opening date is unclear.

Scott K. Miller and Adam Blue of AREA Real Estate Advisors brokered the lease on behalf of the building's owner. The deal comes less than a year after the prime retail outparcel adjacent to Town Center Plaza hit the market.

"We had a lot of interest from premier retailers due to its high-profile location," Miller said. "Everything from restaurants to service retailers and soft goods retailers looked at the space. Ultimately the best fit for everybody ended up being JPMorgan Chase."

Jeff Berg and Coleby Henzlik of Colliers International represented JPMorgan Chase in the transaction.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase announced plans to open its first full-service Kansas City area locations in 2019, with up to 15 branches in the works, according to The Kansas City Business Journal.

West Bottoms’ first micro apartment project moves forward

Cleveland-based developer has secured $52 million in financing for its West Bottoms Flats multifamily project, clearing another hurdle in its effort to redevelop five historic warehouse buildings into so-called micro apartments.

The $66 million redevelopment includes 265 one-room apartments plus structured parking and more than 5,000 square feet of commercial space. Grandbridge Real Estate Capital LLC and Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. LLC facilitated the finance package on behalf of MCM Co. Inc.

With an average footprint of about 600 square feet, micro apartments-or microflats- are considered the next frontier in multifamily housing. Designed to appeal to Millennials, the units are self-contained living spaces that include a kitchenette, sitting space, sleeping space, and bathroom. With completion targeted for 2020, West Bottoms Flats apartments are expected to rent for between $1,000 and $1,200 a month.

“The target market is young professionals who desire smaller units at a lower price point in a heavily dense, urban community with strong neighborhood amenities and connectivity,” said Doug Bates, Grandbridge vice president for the Kansas City market. “The concept is relatively new to Kansas City, but other Midwestern cities have a seen a great deal of deliveries and success with this concept.”

Situated on 2.4 acres between Ninth Street and St. Louis Avenue, Hickory and Wyoming streets, West Bottoms Flats is the first historic multifamily project in the West Bottoms neighborhood just west of Downtown Kansas City and the first metro-area project for MCM Co. Inc.

“Given its linkages to and the strong demand drivers in the neighboring River Market, Downtown, and Crossroads markets, the West Bottoms is well positioned to be the up and coming urban lifestyle community in Kansas City,” Bates added.

The financing package includes more than $24 million in federal and state historic tax credits equity secured through partners Enhanced Capital and Historic Equity Inc., as well as a $31.85 million senior construction loan and $20 million historic tax credit bridge loan. Project lenders include Kansas City-based Blue Ridge Bank & Trust, Jefferson City-based Hawthorn Bank, and Ohio-based Huntington National Bank.

A variety of incentives and abatements were secured through programs administered by the City of Kansas City and Jackson County, Missouri.

With $31M bond sale, Paragon Star developers prepare to kick into high gear

With $31M bond sale, Paragon Star developers prepare to kick into high gear

Paragon Star rendering courtesy of Finkle + Williams.

Hufft helps Tuft & Needle become sleeper retail success story

Thanks to startup mattress company Tuft & Needle, architecture and design firm Hufft has found a soft spot in today’s hard-pressed retail market. 

The online industry disrupter chose Hufft last year to design its experiential prototype store serving the Kansas City market, a project so successful that 10 additional stores are planned for 2019 in addition to stores in Portland, Ore. and Raleigh, N.C.

"The idea was to create a space that felt like home, making the mattress buying experience a little less intimidating," Hufft Design Principal Dan Brown said. "It can be uncomfortable to lay on the bed with your significant other or yourself."

Hufft's concept store in Leawood replaced the sea of flat mattresses and harsh lighting typically found in mattress stores with soft lighting and four semi-private rooms where customers can test mattresses and meet with a "no pressure" sales rep if needed. Orders are placed via iPad and shipped directly to the home.

“It’s exactly what people are talking about when they talk about the future of retail being experiential,” Brown said. “It’s lean, customer centric and experience-based. The concept is more about conveying the experience of the brand, rather than picking from 1,000 products. It’s not about having the most things but about having the most quality.”

Hufft’s on-site fabricating shop creates project efficiencies by producing everything from fixtures to furniture to in-wall rolling casework and cabinetry. The unique combination of retail design expertise and custom fabrication is helping the firm carve out a niche in the crossroads of e-commerce and experiential retail.

“We can quickly roll out these stores. They hand us a location and a box size and then we work with them to develop the concept using the KC store as a template,” Brown said. “While we are in the design process, we can also be building cabinets and fixtures, for the space so it’s a really seamless process.”