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Cityscape Residential’s Jim Thomas on the mixed-use district

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Jim Thomas has a plan to bring suburban living to the urban core. Currently, he’s got more than 600 apartment units underway in the downtown area.
Rendering courtesy of Cityscape Residential.

BY AUTUMN MORNINGSKY, Managing Editor
Metro Wire Media Kansas City

Jim Thomas is betting that Kansas City’s apartment market will thrive for the next twenty years.

Thomas, partner at Cityscape Residential, is developing more than 600 new apartment units in the downtown Kansas City area. And with three projects underway, his recourse loans show how much he believes in his product.

Some are beginning to raise an eyebrow at the onslaught of new apartments going vertical in the Kansas City metro. Will the absorption rate keep pace with new construction? Will younger professionals and empty nesters continue to trade in their yards and spacious homes for a maintenance-free lock and leave lifestyle?

But Thomas has caught a glimpse of the future. While he calls Kansas City his hometown, he’s been a resident of Indianapolis since the beginning of his real estate career 25 years ago.

“One of the benefits of commuting from Indianapolis is that we’re about 15 years ahead of Kansas City,” Thomas told the KC Downtowners last week. “I built my first version of Crossroads Westside in Indianapolis in 1989. It was 275 units wrapping a 475-car parking garage on the downtown canal of Indianapolis, and it was like gold. It was too early for a project like this, so the city subsidized it. Today, it’s stable, but that tells you how long we’ve been trying this in Indianapolis — 25 years.”

Jim Thomas unveiled details of his latest projects at last week’s meeting with the KC Downtowners.

Thomas has set out to bring luxury apartments to downtown in the form of three projects: the 138-unit Apex on Quality Hill, which sits at 10th and Jefferson between Case Park and HNTB; Summit on Quality Hill at 12th and Pennsylvania; and Crossroads Westside, another 275-unit project neighboring La Bodega on Southwest Boulevard.

Thomas says he doesn’t want his residents to compromise.

“One of the advantages of doing large, institutional tier community is we’re going to have common area amenities that a lot of smaller, urban, 40-unit offerings don’t allow,” he said. “This size allows us to add some of the things you’d do in a suburb. It’s for a certain niche of downtown resident who wants private parking and a swimming pool and an elevator up to their door.”

Crossroads Westside is a new 275-unit apartment project going up on Southwest Boulevard. Thomas hopes he can attract a first-floor retailer that will give the project some “Crossroads street cred.” Rendering courtesy of Cityscape Residential.

Additional amenities include a grilling station, extensive fitness areas, club/social room, business center, pet spa and washing station, and bicycle storage and repair. Apartment features include high ceilings, expansive windows, gigabit internet service, granite countertops, wood floors, and full-size decks and patios. Rents will range from $1.60 to $1.65 per square foot.

The projects each include first-floor retail space. A new tenant will soon take half of his 4,500 square feet commercial space at Summit. But he’s searching for an especially unique retailer for the Crossroads Westside project. And he’s not doing it for the rent, but rather something he calls “Crossroads street cred.”

“Four thousand square feet of retail is a tick on the dog,” he said. “It’s more important that it’s cool, moreso than it is to get $18 per square foot in rent versus $12 per square foot. I’ve been talking to Suzy Aron to figure out what arts group can keep the area active and get people to turn down Southwest Boulevard on First Fridays and really knit us into that community.”

All of Cityscape’s apartments under construction will feature modern, urban interiors.

Cityscape’s Summit at Quality Hill includes this parcel at 12th and Washington, where the community’s leasing community
will be located alongside street-level retail. A tenant for that space will soon be announced.

But at the end of the day, Thomas would prefer to do away with the retail portion altogether and opt for a purely residential product. Instead of the popular mixed-use project, he prefers the “mixed use district.”

“I am a huge fan of mixed-use districts, but I don’t necessarily believe that individual projects have to be mixed use. It makes it a thousand times harder to finance something that is residential over retail of that magnitude,” he said. “You can greatly simplify it and thus greatly improve your odds if you set one [project] beside another. Maybe they share parking; There are lots of ways to still get that benefit, grow our district, and grow the urban core. But it doesn’t need to be so complicated.”

Three projects are part of a surge in downtown KC apartments

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Summit on Quality Hill

View of part of the Summit on Quality Hill project, centered at 12th and Washington, looking south from across 12th Street. Jill Toyoshiba jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com.

Cityscape Residential is adding a total of 390 units on Quality Hill

Biggest project at northwest corner of downtown is a striking skyline addition

Former Jones Store warehouse in the Crossroads is razed for more apartments

A stretch of bright green walls, looming above the bluffs of Kansas City’s downtown, radiates to passing drivers on Interstate 35 below that there is a lot — really a lot — of apartment construction in the central business district.Those green walls are a temporary layer before exterior treatment is applied to five new apartment buildings clustered at 12th and Washington streets. When clad, the Summit on Quality Hill apartments will add earthier tones to their 5.25-acre development.

But while their color will be quieted, there appears to be little muffling of the residential march toward the city’s core.

Cityscape Residential, the Indianapolis-based company developing the 252-unit Summit on Quality Hill complex, also is behind a nearby project, Apex on Quality Hill, which is adding 138 apartment units at 10th and Jefferson streets.

The company’s belief in downtown’s surging residential market is echoed in the Crossroads Arts District, where its 221-unit Crossroads West is planned for the site that formerly housed the Jones Store warehouse, which was razed recently, just off Southwest Boulevard.

Cityscape’s 611 new units represent about a third of the approximately 2,100 apartment units currently under construction in and near downtown. And that’s not counting another 1,500 or so units that have been announced but not yet started.

Is it too much? Will supply exceed demand? Only time will tell. But planning experts think the developers — many of them attracted to Kansas City from out of town — have good odds for success.

“Downtown occupancy is at 97 percent right now,” said Tommy Wilson, who keeps track of such numbers at the Downtown Council. “One Light is 100 percent leased. So is the Argyle building,” a newly renovated former office building on 12th Street.

One Light, the glassy 25-story tower that opened six months ago at 50 E. 13th St. and quickly filled its 315 luxury units, sold out its priciest units — costing more than $3,000 a month — first. It made a big splash in a central business district that hadn’t had any new apartment construction for decades.

Two Light, a second tower by the Cordish Co., is being built now at Grand Boulevard and Truman Road and is targeted for a Spring 2018 opening.

Meanwhile, other new apartment construction is underway in the River Market north of downtown, in Columbus Park just to the northeast, and in the Crossroads, Union Hill and Hospital Hill areas to the south.

Most of the built-from-ground-up units followed residential conversions of former office, warehouse and school buildings throughout the central business district. That conversion trend isn’t over yet. Apartments recently were announced for two more old office buildings on Broadway.

Wilson, at the Downtown Council, said the greater downtown area’s residential population, estimated at about 24,000 now, could rise to nearly 29,000 with the announced apartments. Five years out, the best guess indicates that nearly 33,000 people will call the core home.

Cityscape Residential Closes on nearly $175 million in financing to develop four multifamily communities

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Multifamily real estate development and construction firm Cityscape Residential announces that it has recently closed nearly $175 million in joint venture financing in a round led by a long-term institutional equity partner, a private equity group and including funds from six commercial banks.

Continuing to expand its footprint across the Midwest, the four new communities further expand the Cityscape footprint in the Kansas City, Mo. metro area and also represent the firm’s second major transaction in the Louisville, Ky. Metro area.

In Kansas City, Mo., Cityscape has begun work on its 252-unit Summit on Quality Hill community and 138-unit Apex on Quality Hill community, located only a block away. Overlooking the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, these communities are two blocks west of downtown Kansas City and are nestled with the historic Quality Hill neighborhood, the first luxury neighborhood of Kansas City in the 1870s. Located adjacent to the site of Kansas City’s new urban dog park, these pedestrian-friendly communities also feature underground garage parking, private terraces and sweeping views of the nearby river bottoms and of downtown Kansas City.

Also in urban Kansas City, Mo., Cityscape is beginning construction on a 221-unit Crossroads Westside community at the junction of the landmark Crossroads Arts District and the historic Westside neighborhood of downtown. A vibrant section of town known for its galleries, extensive dining and entertainment options and flourishing tech employment concentration, Crossroads is one of the signature districts of urban Kansas City and is located immediately south of downtown and north of the historic Union Station and Crown Center.

Cityscape’s second apartment community in Louisville, Ky. is the 300-unit Axis Apartments. Located near NuLu and a short walk from the restaurant and retail corridors of Bardstown Road, Frankfort Avenue and the Highlands, Axis Apartments is a nine-acre property that will offer first of its kind luxury and amenities in urban Louisville. To date, Axis Apartments ranks as the largest investment in an urban Louisville multifamily complex by an out-of-town developer.

“Our team is dedicated to developing Class-A, institutional-investor-quality, multifamily communities through strategic alliances with long-term capital relationships,” said Brian Cranor, partner of Cityscape Residential. “Such alliances allow Cityscape to streamline deal structures and close quickly once a targeted project has been agreed upon, and this round of financing is an excellent example of the benefit of such alliances.”

In addition to these four communities, Cityscape has additional communities in development and planning throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas. In particular, Cityscape plans to start construction in mid-2016 on a 306-unit suburban Indianapolis community to be located in Plainfield, Ind., adjacent to the Shops at Perry Crossing lifestyle center. Cityscape has also commenced zoning approval for a 261-unit community with structured garage parking on the northeast side of Louisville. Ky., located near Brownsboro Road and the Paddock Shops, and has additional sites under contract in the Kansas City, Mo. market.

Article by Staff Writer RE Journals.com

More details surface on planned Brownsboro Road apartment complex

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A 261-unit apartment complex that will be built on about four acres off Brownsboro Road near the Gene Snyder Freeway will have an unorthodox design that its developer believes will fill a niche for Louisville’s East End.

Kelli Lawrence, a partner with Indianapolis-based Cityscape Residential LLC, told Louisville Business First Wednesday that the proposed apartment complex, on Simcoe Lane, should bring a taste of urban living to the Louisville suburbs.

The complex will have five floors of residential units and a four-floor parking garage in one 450,000-square-foot structure. The parking garage will stand in the middle of the complex and will be surrounded by apartments.

The plan calls for 142 one-bedroom units, 104 two-bedroom units and 15 three-bedroom units, Lawrence said. Rental rates have not been determined.  The development plan also shows a pool with a deck, a bocce ball court and nearly 10,000 square feet of courtyard space.  Read More

Bourbonism, ‘pent-up demand’ draw Indy developer to Louisville

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Indianapolis-based apartment developer Cityscape Residential has filed plans for its third apartment complex in Louisville.

“There’s a lot of great momentum for Louisville,” Kelli Lawrence, a partner with Cityscape, told Insider Louisville.

The city has received national attention for its bourbonism campaign, Lawrence said, and the downtown revitalization, development of new parks and positive employment numbers make Louisville attractive to Millennials — a key demographic for Cityscape.

She also noted that Louisville has developed more slowly than Indianapolis, which has caused the current “pent-up demand” for multifamily residences.

Cityscape’s latest project is a 251-unit apartment complex located on 4.5 acres of land between the Republic Bank and Springhurst Tennis Court on Simcoe Lane, near The Summit. The proposed building is five stories with a four-story parking garage in the center.

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Springhurst area to get 261-apartment complex

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A 2014 rendering from CityScape Residential shows part of the proposed Axis Apartments at 1373 Lexington Road. (Photo: Metro Planning & Design Services )

Indianapolis-based Cityscape Residential has filed plans for its third large Louisville-area apartment development, a proposed 261-unit project on Simcoe Lane near the Gene Snyder Freeway and Brownsboro Road.

Cityscape earlier this week obtained initial building permits for construction on its $40 million, 300-unit Axis Apartments at Lexington Road and Payne Street in the Irish Hill neighborhood.

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Louisville’s First Class A Property by Cityscape Residential, Apex on Preston Apartments, Now Open for Leasing

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Multifamily real estate development and construction firm Cityscape Residential announces that its high-end apartment community, Apex on Preston, has opened its leasing office and is accepting rental applications.  This marks Cityscape’s first property within the state of Kentucky.

Located in the heart of Louisville’s south end employment and retail corridor, Apex on Preston includes 312 units and is the first of its kind in the submarket to offer high-end living with top-of-the-line interior finishes and resort-style communal amenities.

The Apex on Preston property is situated on 15 acres and offers walkable distance to both Commerce Crossings Business Park and adjacent retail and restaurant developments.

“Unmatched,” said Kathy McIntyre, community manager for Apex on Preston.  “These apartment homes and amenities are a must-see.”

Residents can enjoy one, two or three bedroom units with interior finishes such as stainless steel appliances, granite counters and vanities, washers and dryers in each unit, designer lighting and plumbing fixtures, wine refrigeration storage, spa garden tubs, wood-like flooring, multi-tone carpet and crown molding.  Shared community amenities include a resort-style pool with a grilling cabana, commercial quality fitness center with state-of-the-art cardio and weight equipment, business center, club room and resident lounge, and professional management.

“Employment and retail corridors are where the energy is at in today’s residential real estate market,” said Kelli Lawrence, partner of Cityscape Residential.  “We want to provide individuals the opportunity to live the lifestyle they want in our apartments while living close to the activities and amenities that are important to them.  Our team strongly feels that Louisville is a vibrant city and will continue to flourish over the next several years, which is why we’re investing tens of millions of dollars to provide desirable living options for the community.”

Headquartered in Indianapolis, Cityscape designs and develops aware-winning luxury multifamily rental communities throughout the Midwest.  By incorporating design elements that echo each neighborhood’s distinct architectural style, the firm brings a unique and mindful design aesthetic to each of its communities.  With its signature blend of high-end finishes and unparalleled design, Cityscape develops luxury apartments that are attractive to institutional investors and renters alike.