Country Club Plaza Aparments by Sunflower Development Group and Block Real Estate Services. Image by NSPJ Architects

Block, Sunflower partner to build 213-apartment complex on Country Club Plaza


Sunflower Development Group

Block Real Estate Services and Sunflower Development Group plan to build a 10-story, 213-apartment complex with studio, one- and two-bedroom units near the Country Club Plaza at 4627 Madison Avenue.

Block Real Estate Services LLC and Sunflower Development Group last week filed plans and a rezoning request for a new 10-story, 213-apartment multifamily complex at 4627 Madison Ave., near the Plaza’s northwest corner. The proposal’s approximately 2-acre site houses a surface parking lot Sunflower has owned since 2018, as well as the Plaza Corporate Centre offices’ parking garage, owned by a Block-controlled group. The structured parking would be demolished and replaced with a new four-story, 477-space garage.

Sunflower originally had explored different residential density levels for an apartment project on its site, founding partner Jason Swords said. The pursuit later evolved into a partnership with Block, with which Sunflower in recent years has completed or broken ground on about $150 million in development to date throughout the Midwest.

“Jason and I had been longtime friends and partners on several ventures,” said Aaron Mesmer, executive vice president of development and acquisitions with Block. “We started putting two and two together and figured out, between what we could do with the reuse of the garage on the north side of the office building as well as what (property) Jason had there, we could do something probably a little bit more spectacular than either site would allow by itself.”

The 4627 Madison project would vary in height with its site’s grade, averaging nearly 97 feet on Madison Avenue and 88 feet on Summit Street, the filed plans show. It is in the city’s Plaza Bowl Overlay District but does not seek a deviation request, Swords and Mesmer said.

The project is envisioned with 213 studio, one- and two-bedroom units, though Swords said the specific unit mix and rent levels have yet to be finalized.

The complex would include a range of amenities mostly on its 10th floor, including a pool with a swim-up bar, covered grill area, clubhouse, fitness center, work-from-home spaces and interior synthetic turf patios for some units. The building also includes a dog park along Summit Street. Its garage would include 336 residential and 141 office spaces. The project also would replace the existing garage’s skybridge connection to the Plaza Corporate Centre offices just to the south.

The developers signaled in their application that they will seek tax incentives, though Swords said they have not yet submitted an application to a specific local agency. Another multifamily plan in the Plaza area — a $140 million, 328-unit high-rise by Lane4 Property Group at 4711 Belleview Ave. — last month won a 20-year stair-stepping property tax exemption through the Port Authority of Kansas City, after the local agency took up the project at city leadership’s request.

Block and Sunflower’s project is scheduled for the City Plan Commission’s review in November. Pending project approvals, Swords said the developers would target a 2024 groundbreaking for the apartments, with construction expected to take 18-24 months.

The 4627 Madison site sits just east of a triangular parcel south of 46th Street, between Roanoke Parkway and Madison Avenue, where Block for years has planned a luxury apartment high-rise called The Madison. City officials in early 2022 approved amended plans for the 16-story, 238-apartment tower, but the developer last year said it was on hold until higher interest rates and construction prices come back in line.

Both projects stand to address what some city officials and developers have underscored as a need for new residential construction to help revitalize the Country Club Plaza, before and after news broke that the iconic shopping center’s owners were in default on the outstanding balance of their acquisition loan.

“I think it’s essential to help the Plaza come back in a way,” Mesmer said of new housing around the Plaza. “You’re not seeing as many office users, some of the space that is leased down here isn’t occupied, and the restaurants and the shops need people. And so creating more residential density is one way to help make the Plaza a more viable neighborhood.”

In 2018, Block and Sunflower completed a $69 million conversion of the former Traders on Grand building at 1125 Grand Blvd. from a 21-story office tower to a 201-unit luxury apartment community. The developers also presented plans for a two-story speculative office building in downtown Olathe earlier this year.

Outside the metro, the two are building a 221-unit complex in Castle Rock, Colorado. They also plan new apartments in a historic office building they acquired in downtown Cincinnati in late 2021, and together they were finalists in a past request for proposals for redevelopment of Memphis’ tallest building.

The project team for the 4627 Madison apartments includes NSPJ Architects as architect and McClure Engineering as civil engineer.

Learn more at the Kansas City Business Journal.

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