Onetime downtown baseball site now pitched 'dirt cheap' for mixed-use
May 3, 2017, 1:56pm CDT
Author: Rob Roberts, KCBJ
A nearly two-block parcel that was part of a site once pitched as a potential location for a downtown baseball stadium now is being marketed as an unprecedented mixed-use development opportunity.
Block Real Estate Services principal Michael Block and sales associate Keitin Nuspl have listed the 5.77-acre East Crossroads site, which is bounded by 19th, 20th, Oak and Cherry streets.
The area outlined is a 5.7-acre parcel in Downtown East Crossroads that can be picked up for development in one fell swoop. This image looks from the south to the north.
The asking price is $7.541 million, or $30 a foot, which Block called “so dirt cheap it’s almost silly.”
Perhaps the property’s greatest feature is that “no assembly’s required,” he added.
“Think about the Sprint Center site,” Block said. “That was a labor of assemblage — one by one by one — where you’d go and get this guy to sell and then try to keep it secret until you get the other guy to sell. That site took several years to assemble, while this site is nearly as large, and you can pick it all up in one fell swoop.”
Block reeled off a few other pluses: The property is flat, served by all utilities, unencumbered by leases and includes only one structure, an old 22,000-square-foot building that will be easy to demolish.
In addition, Nuspl said, it’s the largest piece of near-shovel-ready dirt that has been or will be available in Downtown for some time.
Block, who is also president of an investment entity called Kissel Properties Inc., said it assembled the parcel in 1981-82 and also acquired the Kansas City Terminal Railway’s former McGee Street yard just south of it. Located north of and just across the railroad tracks from Crown Center and Hospital Hill, the old railyard later was sold to Children’s Mercy, which uses it as an auxiliary parking lot.
Block said Kissel had acquired the old railyard and the nearly two blocks now on the market because “the theory in the early ’80s was that Crown Center might hop the tracks and continue to grow north as a mixed-use development.”
“Or, if nothing else, we thought someone on the south side of the tracks might want to control the property they were looking at every day,” Block added. “When you looked across the train tracks, it wasn’t very pretty, just old industrial buildings that were dilapidated in some cases. And if you’ve got a beautiful piece of property and an ugly neighbor, maybe you want to buy the neighbor’s property when it comes on the market. That was the kind of thinking.”
Things didn’t play out that way, however. So when the downtown baseball debate began raging in 2004, supporters looked around and saw that the site now on the market, combined with the sprawling Children’s Mercy auxiliary lot, would be a great new home for the Kansas City Royals.
“Children’s Mercy Hospital wouldn’t like the idea because they’ve got a great big parking area down there (within the proposed stadium site),” Whitney Kerr Sr., a land assemblage veteran with Cushman & Wakefield, said when the downtown baseball discussion was rekindled 10 years later.“But it would be close enough to Downtown and Crown Center that I think it would be very supportive of both those areas.”
Although many now consider downtown baseball to be a train that's forever left the station, Block said the owners of the nearly two-block site southeast of 19th and Oak streets think it is primed for a mixed-use development home run.
The site's ownership includes Kissel Properties, which also spent a couple of years in the late 1990s getting the portion of Locust Street that bisects the tract vacated, and Crown Center Redevelopment Corp., which bought the portion east of Locust from Kissel years ago.
That portion, leased to Children’s Mercy on a short-term basis for additional auxiliary parking, lies next to a small undeveloped tract at the northeast corner of the two blocks that is not part of the new offering. Located at 19th and Cherry streets, it's owned by developer Matt Abbott’s Crossroads East LLC.
But that leaves nearly 6 acres of contiguous ground in the heart of the urban core, Block said, “and we really think the price is extremely good.”
“You can’t find this kind of property anywhere Downtown,” he said.