New 12-story high rise proposed for Country Club Plaza

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - If a Kansas City developer has its way, the Country Club Plaza could be the new home of a $78 million, 12-story office tower at 46th Terrace and Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Block Real Estate Services will present their plan to Kansas City’s development review committee Wednesday morning from 7:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. on the 15th floor of City Hall.

UPDATE, 9:05 a.m.: The meeting was postponed indefinitely.

The plan would call for the demolition of Victory Court Apartments, a 1950s two-story apartment complex north of the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist.

The Block project is the first high-rise project suggested for the Plaza area since Highwoods Properties, the owner of the Plaza, dropped its plan in 2011 to build offices for the Polsinelli law firm on the site of the Neptune Apartments at 333 W. 46th Terrace. That project was fiercely opposed by nearby residents.
The new high-rise development proposal is getting divided feedback.

Keith Spare, president of the South Plaza Neighborhood Association said he was taken back by the architectural rendering of the high-rise.

"What you see at first glance looks gargantuan to me. It looks like a huge wall behind what otherwise is the plaza,” he said.

Spare said while he and the members of the South Plaza Neighborhood Association have not taken an official stance, while waiting on the results of a traffic study, they fear the high rise will be too tall and unnecessary in an area like the Country Club Plaza.

"Partially I wish they would go elsewhere. The struggle is: Do we really need it? Do we really want it? People want to be in the plaza and that's understandable. Businesses have wanted to be there in the past but the neighbors have generally said well, that's not what we want here,” Spare said.

The area of the Plaza where the Block high-rise is proposed is in a section that calls for building height not to exceed 10 stories. Since this project would be 12 stories, it may require an amendment to the Plaza plan.
The group Friends of Plaza sent a letter in support of the office building project. Dan Cofran, a member of the group, said the projected project is in an area that should be acceptable for a larger building, right across the street from the 10-story Valencia Tower.

"In many respects, the Plaza is Kansas City’s beachfront property and we need to be careful about it by not overdeveloping it; but we have looked at this one and think it is consistent with the Plaza plan,” he said, adding that Kansas City needs more high-rise office space to compete with suburban areas in Johnson County and Lee’s Summit.

"Kansas City, Mo., has to compete with office development in the suburban areas of our city. The Plaza is one of our premiere areas we can offer to compete with those other office sites. It's important for KC to maintain its tax base and office space is an important part of that,” Cofran said.

Block Real Estate also plans to seek a 25-year property tax abatement from the city to assist with the development because of the additional cost involved in developing the site.

While the proposed Block office tower is about the same size as the Highwoods plan rejected three years ago, the developer believes this proposed development fits better in the overall look and feel of the Plaza.

"We wanted to do a building with a look that bigger cities are doing," Ken Block of Block Real Estate Services said, "We've got to provide opportunities for clients to get Class A office in Kansas City, and the Plaza is the place. A new building in the Plaza will attract and keep tenants and benefit retail and residences."

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