Sunflower Development Group | Hotel Developer “Sees Good Things” Ahead for P&L District
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Hotel Developer “Sees Good Things” Ahead for P&L District

Photo: Paul Coury (left) and Jason Swords are redeveloping the historic Gate City National Bank as a boutique hotel.

Tulsa, Okla., hotel developer Paul Coury credits Kansas City’s Power & Light District as the reason behind his renovation of the Gate City National Bank.

The boutique hotel under construction at 1111 Grand Blvd. is expected to open in time for baseball’s All-Star Game in July at Kauffman Stadium.

City officials and district developer the Cordish Co. have often argued that the indirect economic benefits of the entertainment district make the city’s hefty ongoing subsidies to the project — estimated at $10.9 million this year alone — worth it. Coury didn’t mince words about cause and effect last week at a luncheon meeting of the Downtowners.

“We picked Kansas City mainly for the dynamics of the Power & Light District,” he said. “I know that’s contrary, but from what I know about urban infill projects, I think Kansas City’s is a textbook example.

“Will it be an immediate success? No. It opened in a bad economy. But I see good things for the Power & Light District.”

Coury elaborated later as he visited the partly completed $11 million hotel project, which is a block away from the Power & Light District.

The project still is a long way from the kind of swank place its developer thinks will make it among the hottest hotels in Kansas City, but there are a few model rooms completed and the marble entrance looks impressive, even with scaffolding.

“The truth is, I don’t know how many projects like the Power & Light work right out of the chute like the consultants predicted, but it’s an unbelievable transformation,” Coury said.

Kind of like what Coury has in mind for the 43-room luxury hotel he is calling the Ambassador.

The first floor will feature a chic bar leading into a restaurant that will focus on a small-plate menu. All the furniture will be custom-designed, and from the looks of a poster Coury showed the Downtowners, there certainly is a nod to art deco.

The building was completed in 1906 and was intended to be 10 stories tall. It wound up being seven, and that is why the towering pillars and portico that frame the entrance are outsized. It was a bank for much of its life.

More recently, however, the building housed one of downtown’s most notorious nightclubs, Club Chemical. The building was bought in 2006 by the developers who converted the Professional Building next door into apartments, and the rowdy bar was bounced.

In 2008, developer Jason Swords got a 25-year property tax abatement to renovate 1111 Grand. Coury, who has developed hotels in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Wichita and Fort Worth, Texas, came on board later and bought the project.

The rooms are being done to four-star standards, and Coury said he expects the average daily rate will be $160 a night.

The upper floor will feature two loft-style rooms with big windows. The rooms will be marketed to entertainers who perform at the nearby Sprint Center or Kauffman Center or to anyone who wants to be pampered — for around $350 a night.

“I think they’ll be one of the most exciting rooms offered in Kansas City,” Coury said.

BY KEVIN COLLISON

The Kansas City Star

Posted on Mon, May. 14, 2012 06:27 PM

To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send email to kcollison@kcstar.com.

Read the article on the Kansas City Star website
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