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August 11, 2017
By Rob Roberts, Kansas City Business Journal
“This project was 10 years in the making,” Copaken Brooks principal Jon Copaken said during Thursday groundbreaking ceremonies for ARTerra, the Crossroads Arts District's first high-rise apartment project.
In August 2007, Copaken announced that construction was about to begin soon at the ARTerra site, where two years earlier the $18 million demolition of the seven-story PCB Treatment Inc. building at 2100 Wyandotte St. was completed as part of a Superfund federal cleanup project.
An affiliate of what was then known as Copaken White & Blitt subsequently bought the site for about $900,000. But in the decade since then, several things about ARTerra have changed — such as Copaken Brooks’ development and construction partners for the project and its type and scope.
In 2007, a development partnership involving Copaken White & Blitt and executives of Harris Construction Co. Inc. envisioned a $16 million, six-story boutique condominium project called ARTerra 21 — a name coined by Hunter Harris, who has since moved on to Lane4 Property Group Inc. and is not involved in the project.
But ARTerra 21 was killed by the recession and new condo-financing restrictions, and the site has remained vacant as the Crossroads continued to develop around it.
Eventually, Copaken Brooks partnered with EPC Real Estate Group LLC, a leading Kansas City-area apartment developer, and in 2015, those firms announced that they were on the verge of breaking ground on ARTerra as a 12-story apartment tower. But the parties mutually agreed to end that partnership, and Copaken Brooks subsequently teamed with St. Louis-based Altus Propertiesfor the project.
Now, after so much waiting, it’s time for a little hurry up, the developers of the now $40 million, 126-unit ARTerra project said Thursday.
“How about a construction team that won’t even stop while we’re having the groundbreaking ceremony,” Josh Udelhofen, Altus Properties’ managing director for development, said Thursday as excavation equipment rumbled noisily behind a tent set up for the groundbreaking ceremonies.
Designed by HOK, the project is being built by a team including JE Dunn Construction, the general contractor, and Kissick Construction Co., its subcontractor for excavation.
Copaken said it had been presumed that the concrete foundation of the old PCB Building had been removed from the site, along with the hazardous compounds, back in 2005. But the developers recently discovered a massive amount of buried concrete, which they have been removing as part of their site-preparation efforts. In addition, Kissick has drilled 269 holes between 50 and 60 feet deep on the site to sink support piers for the ARTerra structure down to bedrock.
Tim Dunn, chief investment and treasury officer for JE Dunn, told the groundbreaking crowd that ARTerra would be the first structure in Kansas City built with the innovative Prescient framing system, which was developed by a Denver-based company that JE Dunn owns a stake in.
Dunn said Prescient suppresses construction costs, reduces waste and maximizes fire safety by “leveraging the precision engineering of this premanufactured, patented, panelized light-gauge and cold-rolled steel frame system.”
Renderings of ARTerra illustrate the edgy exterior the developers have planned. But Copaken said the project was designed “from the inside out,” with the exterior designed last “to make sure it had the configuration, the efficiencies and the amenities that people want for living today.”
In addition to being the first Crossroads high-rise and the first of many projects that Copaken Brooks and Altus Properties plan to team up on in Kansas City, Copaken said, ARTerra has been designed to be the best multifamily project in the most sought-after location in the downtown area.
“The Crossroads is where people clearly want to be,” Copaken said.
That’s evidenced by the fact the 10-story Corrigan Station office project, which Copaken Brooks co-developed at a nearby Crossroads location, has been able to command rents that are $5 a square foot higher than is being charged for comparable space within the downtown freeway loop.
Copaken said demand for the luxury apartment living ARTerra will provide within “the incomparable art and restaurant environment of the Crossroads” will allow the project to achieve top-of-the market rents averaging $2.30 a foot — the same being charged for The Cordish Cos’ new Two Light apartment high-rise, which is scheduled to open in June 2018.
ARTerra is scheduled for completion in late 2018.
The high-rise is a block north of three popular Freighthouse district restaurants — Lidia’s, Grunaeur and Jack Stack Barbecue — and just east of the historic Pabst and Pendergast buildings, which the Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group is converting into a boutigue hotel. ARTerra will include units ranging from studios through three-bedroom apartments. It also will include first-floor retail, an integrated parking garage and best-in-class amenity spaces, including an infinity pool overlooking Liberty Memorial and Penn Valley Park, as well as a 12th-floor amenity suite offering unparalleled skyline views.