Sunflower Development Group

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.

MetroWire Media's top themes of 2018: Push, Pivot, Preserve

Developer completes Longview Farms stabilization effort

The stabilization of four historic buildings at Lee’s Summit’s Longview Farm has been completed, setting the stage for full restoration of several structures central to the former show farm’s future redevelopment.

“These buildings serve as a historic cornerstone for Lee’s Summit’s New Longview development area and its $80 million in ongoing housing and commercial projects,” said Mark Moberly, Director of Development with Sunflower Development Group.

The stabilization project included structural repairs and weatherization related work to prevent further deterioration of two red-roofed barns, a farm house, a dairy manger house, and the show farm’s signature arch on the north end of the property.

The City of Lee’s Summit, along with Mariner Real Estate Management, now called Platform Ventures, and Sunflower Development Group, used tax-increment financing to cover costs of the stabilization effort. Full restoration projects will be completed with assistance from TIF district revenues to fund the additional improvements.

The City of Lee’s Summit worked with developers to inspect, plan and design the stabilization work, which will help ensure responsible redevelopment of both Longview Farms and the New Longview area, according to Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads “Because historic redevelopment can be complicated and costly, the City was mindful of not over-investing in these structures. The goal was to stabilize, weatherize and shore up the buildings in anticipation of future investment,” said Mayor Rhoads.

In December, Sunflower Development Group announced it would complete $3 million in renovations to the 101-year-old Longview Mansion1200 SW Longview Park Dr., by late 2018.
Sunflower Development Group is known for historic restorations of several downtown Kansas City properties, including conversions to hotel, housing and other commercial uses.

Sunflower will secure private financing for the restorations, but public financial support is still needed to cover the extraordinary costs associated with stabilizing and rehabilitating the unique structures, according to Moberly.

“Working with the City of Lee’s Summit, State of Missouri and National Parks Service to secure the TIF and historic tax credits is extremely important due to the financial gap that exists with rehabilitating each property,” Moberly said.

While work on the Mansion began in February, the timeline for full rehabilitation of the remaining structures is uncertain due to the need for significant new construction commercial projects in the TIF, like a new theater, to happen first.

Sunflower Development Group maintains ownership of buildings it restores and leases them to tenants.

**Picture provided by Sunflower Development Group

New owners announce 'gentle facelift' for century-old Longview Mansion

An entity of Sunflower Development Group has purchased the historic Longview Mansion in Lee's Summit and plans to begin a historic rehabilitation of the 102-year old property in early 2018. 

Developers call the restoration project a "gentle facelift" that will prepare the historic property at 1200 SW Longview Park Dr. for new life as a regional event venue and destination. 

"After several years working with the City of Lee's Summit and residents of the New Longview area, we were able to create a rehabilitation plan that addresses structural, roof, mechanical, electrical and plumbing issues that have plagued the mansion for years," Sunflower Development Group Director of Development Mark Moberly said. 

Work is expected to be completed in the fall of 2018. Rau Construction Company will serve as general contractor for the project, and Rosemann & Associates, PC will lead architecture and design efforts. 

The rehabilitation will utilize state and federal historic tax credits, proceeds from the area TIF plans, financing from OakStar Bank, and private capital. 

In December, Longview Mansion's longtime operators Jeanne MarshallJenny Gale and Hunter Gale, moved from the premises. 

"Their dedication to the Mansion, commitment to the Longview neighborhood, and support of the Lee's Summit community has been unwavering over the many years," Moberly said. "As the new owners of the property, we are thankful for the care they have taken to keep the historical property a hallmark of Kansas City during that time."

All events currently booked at the Mansion will continue as planned, and bookings beyond September 2018 are being accepted. For details, call 816-761-6999 or email info@longviewmansion.com