Kansas City Star
June 21, 2017
The sleek new gray, aluminum-clad building at 3435 Main St. doesn’t look anything like its nearby midtown Kansas City properties, which are typically made of older brick.
But that exterior hides something even more different inside. For a first in the Kansas City area, an apartment building was constructed by joining and stacking prefabricated modular units.
Eighty apartment units, on the market for about $800 to $1,300 per month depending on size, promise another unusual feature: super quiet living spaces.
Each “pod,” assembled by Champion Home Builders in York, Neb., and shipped separately, was built with double insulation on the top, bottom and sides. Stacked side by side or on top of each other, that creates four layers of insulation plus two feet of dead space between modules.
The result: “premium seclusion from your neighbors,” according to the developers.
The building, which uses its address as its name, is an architectural departure for MAC Properties, which has spent nearly a decade redeveloping historic apartment buildings, primarily along Armour Boulevard from Broadway to Troost Avenue.
Peter Cassel, a principal with Chicago-based MAC Properties, said the company had seen successful modular apartment developments in Denver and Brooklyn, N.Y., before deciding to introduce the format in Kansas City.
The modular units include studios, one- and two-bedroom floor plans planted atop a ground floor and parking garage. The units range from 425 square feet to 900 square feet. Interior walls in each pod are all traditional drywall construction.
It took more than 60 concrete mixerloads to pour the base and framing for the building, much of it done overnight to minimize traffic disruption on Main Street during the day.
While the property was being readied in Kansas City, the manufacturing plant in York assembled the modules. They came complete with kitchen counters, Whirlpool appliances, toilets, shower stalls, washers and dryers. Subway tile on the bath and kitchen walls, plank flooring and quartz countertops all came in the pods, which were then joined on-site.
“The modular style significantly reduced the amount of waste created through construction,” Cassel said. “On a typical site, you have 7 to 10 percent materials waste. With modular we had less than 3 percent waste, and that was almost all at the Nebraska site.”
Another benefit of the modular process, Cassel said, was that it reduced workers’ compensation claims for injuries on the job.
“In stick-built construction, workers’ comp claims have been frustratingly difficult to reduce,” Cassel said. “But 3435 Main had much lower claims because of the construction environment in the plant. People did most of the work in the factory at bench height, not climbing ladders or working out in the elements.”
It took about three months to prepare the site and construct the building’s platform. After that, it only took about a month to stack and connect the 80 living units. Centric Projects then worked on the exterior, the interior stairwells, elevator, hallways and ground floor space, which includes 50 parking slots, bike storage and a communal lobby.
El Dorado Inc. worked on the Kansas City design.
The ground-floor lobby, in a nod to the modular construction, features a wall of giant white, gray and black connecting blocks that look like Legos.
Another part of the ground floor, facing Main Street, is available for a 2,200-square-foot retail or restaurant space.
MAC Properties held a grand opening in early June. Within days of opening, all two-bedroom units were leased and about half of the one-bedrooms and studio units were claimed.
“We’re seeing people moving in from different places,” Cassel said. “There are folks who work downtown and use the MAX bus line to come and go down Main Street. We’re also getting people who work or study on the Plaza or at UMKC. Many of them said they were excited to have a contemporary product in midtown.”
Cassel said that when the project was announced there was a lot of discussion with people concerned with neighborhood preservation and classic architecture.
“We’ve talked to them for years (in connection with MAC’s traditional renovations),” Cassel said. “This was a risk, but we felt like the risk was realized positively.”
MAC developed 3435 Main in concert with rehabilitating two office buildings into apartments at 12 E. Armour and 301 E. Armour.
Working through Kansas City’s Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, the 3435 Main property received a 19-year, 95-percent property tax abatement on the increased value of the apartment site. No abatement was given on the office conversion properties. MAC agreed to make a 5-percent payment in lieu of taxes.
The company also received assistance from the city’s Midtown Business Interruption Fund, a residential development incentive tool established during redevelopment of the Cosco/Home Depot/Sun Fresh shopping centers.
City records show that from 2017 to 2023, MAC has been approved for allocations of $4.8 million to assist in housing projects at 525 E. Armour, 100 W. Armour and 3435 Main.