Affordable housing will open on the north end of historic Paseo Blvd. with the completed renovation of the Jazz Hill Apartments, a group of 11 buildings that once were the pride of the community, but have stood vacant for more than 20 years.
When complete, the 100% affordable project, located along Paseo Blvd. between 9th and 13th streets in Kansas City, MO, will add nearly 200 units of much-needed affordable housing to the city’s north side. The Jazz Hill project includes 11 buildings and a total of 14 studios, 147 one-bedrooms, and 36 two-bedroom apartments.
The monthly rent is estimated to range from $600 to $825. Residents must meet income qualifications. Applications for the apartments are already being accepted.
The project is a partnership between 12th Street Heritage Development Corp (TSHDC), a community development corporation founded to improve Kansas City’s 12th Street neighborhood, and Flaherty & Collins Properties, a multifamily housing development, construction and property management company based in Indiana. They closed on the property in December 2022, and broke ground in January.
They expect the first building to be ready for occupancy in late September and anticipate having an additional building ready for occupancy approximately every other month.
“I think this is a tremendous project for our community,” said Twelfth Street Heritage Corp. CEO Dwayne Williams. “It’s a project that I think gives the city a start on trying to fill this obligation of doing somewhere between 8 and 10,000 units of affordable housing that’s needed in our city.”
Gut & Rebuild
The historic buildings, built in the early 1900s, feature the colonnade design, an upscale early apartment building design pioneered in Kansas City. The most distinguishing feature of colonnade apartments is their set of four front columns, usually supporting stacks of front porches. In their day, the apartments along the Paseo were among the most upscale in Kansas City.
However, years of abandonment and decay left the buildings in such poor condition that the team quickly realized these buildings needed more than a little refreshing, they needed a total gut and rebuild.
In each of the buildings, all of the interior finishes were removed down to its basic structure and rebuilt. The total rehabilitation has included replacing missing roofs, restoring decaying foundations, power washing graffiti, rewiring buildings, and restoring the classic colonnade structures.
Each of the buildings is ADA compliant, with ramps and elevators for easier wheelchair access in four of the 11 buildings. The units also include HVAC, hardwood flooring, controlled access with intercom systems, designated parking options and laundry rooms.
“I think the key was to try to bring the concept back to the way Paseo looked,” emphasized Williams.
“Paseo was what we called the crème de la crème boulevard. We tried to take the buildings back to that same look,” said Williams. “We knew it would be an extra cost but we decided to fix the buildings correctly.”
Creative Project Funding
The required gut and rebuild lengthened the turnaround time and more than doubled the price of the project – from $18 to $38 million.
The developers have been able to take advantage of some creative private and public funding, including tax credits that provide investors tax breaks for investing in affordable housing projects.
“Once we decided to take on this project, we had to have every entity of financing that was available to us to do a project like this,” said Williams. “The first funding pool we used was a pool of money that is not getting as much publicity as it should because it is money for the African-American community and that’s called CCED – Central Cities Economic Development.”
Still, despite the creative funding, the extensive project still has a funding gap Williams is working hard to close.
What Williams is particularly proud of is the level of minority and women participation on the project. The funding parties set a goal of 36% MBE/WBE participation and the project is exceeding that goal with 44% participation.
About 12th Street Heritage Development
Twelfth Street Heritage Development Corporation is a community development corporation founded in 1984 to serve an area along 12th Street just east of downtown. TSHDC’s target area has the highest concentration of public housing in the metro area, including five housing developments operated by the KCMO Housing Authority and three privately funded housing developments.
A small group of citizens, under the leadership of entrepreneur Ollie Gates formed TSHDC in response to growing challenges they saw in the urban community. Once they formed, TSHDC went to work implementing a revitalization plan centered on the 12th Street Corridor.
A partial list of the CDC’s completed projects includes:
– Arzelia Gardens, a 50-unit affordable elderly housing facility
– St. Mark’s Church Child Development Center
– Gates Center expansion, the northwest corner of 12th and Paseo.
– 36 units of single-family housing
In 2010, the organization also began a reentry program that helps the formerly incarcerated gain employment, workforce training, and personal development training. The program has been able to gain contracts with the city and county to employ workers in the program to mow and clean empty lots.
It was Gates who encouraged Williams and TSHDC to pursue the Jazz Hill Apartments renovation project.
When 12th Street was approached by Flaherty & Collins, the two groups found a partnership they believe can continue to take on projects in the Kansas City Market.
Flaherty & Collins will remain with the Jazz Hill project as the management company. Williams says 12th Street and Flaherty & Collins are looking to expand their future projects beyond the CDC’s initial targeted area.
“People need housing all over the community and one of the unfortunate things that has happened in our community is that we’ve put affordable housing in one centralized area,” Williams said. “Every district in this city, all six districts, need affordable housing so what we want to concentrate on is putting affordable housing everywhere.”
Williams said that, in addition, some of their future projects with Flaherty may not be affordable but market-rate projects.
Interested in being a Jazz Hill tenant?
For more info about renting at Jazz Hill, visit LiveAtJazzHill.com
Office: 1000 Paseo Blvd., Suite 103, KCMO
Hours: Mon. – Fri. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.