Plan to turn KC building into home for artists

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(KANSAS CITY, Mo., AP) — A Minneapolis developer wants to turn a historic downtown Kansas City building into apartments where struggling artists could afford to live.
The Municipal Art Commission gave unanimous approval this week to the $21.7 million redevelopment plan to renovate the Scarritt Building into 109 loft-style apartments with monthly rents of $525 for 40 studio units and $650 for 69 one-bedroom units.
Developer George Sherman is seeking affordable housing tax credits from the state, as well as state and federal historic tax credits. Work could begin next summer and the building would be complete by 2015 if financing is arranged, The Kansas City Star reported.
The ArtsKC-Regional Arts Council said the nearly 4,300 people in the region who consider themselves artists make an average of about $12,500 a year.
“This would be the largest residential development for artists in the Kansas City area and perhaps the state of Missouri,” Donovan Mouton, the representative of Sherman Associates, told the arts commission.
Stephanie Leedy, who offers space for artists to live and work above the Leedy-Voulkos gallery in the Crossroads Arts District, said artists struggle to find housing in Kansas City.
“If they’re not renting from us or a couple of other buildings, they’re out of luck. I have so many people asking for space, and I don’t have anything,” she said.
With more artists moving to Kansas City, the need for affordable housing is growing, ArtsKC president and CEO Harlan Brownlee said.
“Ultimately, for artists, it’s about having a space. The whole model of live-work has been successful, and I like the idea of more people living downtown.”
The plan would leave the first floor and basement level of the 11-story Scarritt Building for retail and community space. A follow-up project would redevelop the nearby four-story Scarritt Arcade into studio space and an art gallery.
The Scarritt Building and Arcade were completed in 1907, and the building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Although the building would be marketed toward artists, anyone meeting the income guidelines could live there. Affordable housing guidelines limit annual incomes for a one-person household to $30,840; a two-person household, $35,220; and a three-person household, $39,600.