KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Roaster's Block is officially open. After a $35 million renovation, there are 146 brand new luxury apartment buildings where the old Folgers plant used to be.
"You want to renovate. You want to repurpose. You want to reuse and you have to really make sure that you're doing it in a smart, sustainable manner," Justin Larson, director of multi-family for O'Reilly Development Group, said.
Wednesday, the developer hosted an official grand opening and invited former Folgers employees to take a tour.
Terry Dudenhoffer worked at the plant for six years and said, "It gave me some closure. They did beautiful things. They renovated stuff. They kept stuff from the old building. They didn't just destroy it."
"It's so much the same, but so much different," Eric Allen, who worked at the plant for 25 years, said.
Paula Haskins spent 25 years at the Folgers plant and helped coordinate the tour for former employees like herself. She got emotional during the walkthrough explaining, "They have brought life to what we thought was dead or had died and she still lives."
The project was made possible in part by the use of historic tax credits. This year, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens formed a panel that recommended big changes to programs like it. The state auditor estimating a cost of over $5 billion in the last 10 years.
Kansas City Councilman Scott Taylor said, "Well I think in the cases of this development and the two I mentioned, Mosaic Arena and Commerce Tower, those projects would not have happened without state tax credits. I would invite all legislators and the governor to come in and see some of these projects and the positive impact they're having on Kansas City."
Erin Falter, who lives at Roaster’s Block, thinks the historic value is worth it.
"Oh totally. The repurposing of this building is awesome and the fact that it was the Folgers building makes it even more cool,” she said.
The tour was bittersweet for the former Folgers crew, but the memories are still alive in the restored building. Dudenhoffer said, “Miss the smell of coffee roasting. You always knew you were close to work when you could smell the coffee roasting."