OFFICIAL - Lightwell (formerly City Center Square)

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
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OFFICIAL - Lightwell (formerly City Center Square)

Post by KCMax » Fri May 11, 2012 10:21 am

City Center Square’s for-sale listing has company in downtown Kansas City
A listing for the property describes it as a short sale — one that may not cover the amount owed on the building — and the loan has been transferred to a special servicer.
City Center Square was listed as the Kansas City area’s biggest delinquent commercial mortgage-backed security in 2010, when ratings agencies said it had gone more than 90 days overdue on its payments on a $41 million loan.
The building, which is 49 percent leased, suffers from a lack of parking, despite Time Equities building a parking structure across Baltimore Avenue (not included in the short sale) to supplement two floors of underground parking.

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Re: OFFICIAL - Lightwell (formerly City Center Square)

Post by mean » Fri May 11, 2012 2:02 pm

Lack of parking? For f's sake...

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Re: OFFICIAL - Lightwell (formerly City Center Square)

Post by FangKC » Fri May 11, 2012 2:06 pm

Some investor needs to buy City Center Square and the Power & Light Building and build a large parking garage at 13th and Baltimore when the P&L Bldg is redeveloped, that can service both properties, which would make CCS more marketable to tenants.

Or a garage could be built next to Lyric Theater at 11th and Wyandotte that could also serve CCS.

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Re: OFFICIAL - Lightwell (formerly City Center Square)

Post by DaveKCMO » Sat May 12, 2012 8:46 am

more garages aren't the answer. the city has no appetite for subsidizing any more of them and a recent study proves there is a glut. market conditions probably aren't good enough to build a new garage without subsidy of some kind.

better utilization of existing garages and improved transit are the answer.

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Re: OFFICIAL - Lightwell (formerly City Center Square)

Post by FangKC » Sat May 12, 2012 8:34 pm

Well, you have to recall that the City took the Jones Store block with the threat of eminent domain from Time Equities, that it had purchased for the purpose of building a large enough garage to service City Center Square. If the P&L Building is part of the new convention hotel development, the Jury plan had included a large garage at 13th and Baltimore anyway.

Just because enough parking spaces exist downtown doesn't mean that they are all available for lease to Time Equities for City Center Square.

Granted, it was poor planning to allow garages to be built nearby that were too small to serve adjacent needs--like the garage between Main and Baltimore and 10th and 11th, that could have been built larger to accommodate more cars. Had that been done, we might have been able to save the former Italian Gardens building, which was demolished simply because not enough parking was available for CCS tenants.

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Re: OFFICIAL - Lightwell (formerly City Center Square)

Post by mean » Sat May 12, 2012 11:58 pm

DaveKCMO wrote:better utilization of existing garages and improved transit are the answer.
Preach it, brother.

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Re: OFFICIAL - Lightwell (formerly City Center Square)

Post by FangKC » Sun May 13, 2012 1:21 am

It's all well-and-good to say that in principle, but you aren't the leasing agent for City Center Square who has to deal with a 49 percent-leased building, and potential tenants that say they didn't lease because you don't have enough parking for tenants.

A half-empty building of that size is not fully-contributing to the tax-base when floors sit empty that could be housing businesses that pay taxes, and have employees that buy things from restaurants, bars, and retail downtown, and pay earnings taxes. Keep in mind that we have other large buildings like the former KCP&L and the Brookfield buildings nearby that are empty, and not contributing business to downtown or taxes to the City. All have potential problems with being leased because of parking issues.

95 percent or more of downtown workers are going to arrive by car, and that is the present reality. City Center Square has had this problem for many, many years, and it's still not resolved.

Improved transit may help sometime in the future, but that future doesn't exist now.

Combining parking on the former KCP&L parcel for all three properties could solve the problem that exists presently. Design and build a new garage in such a way that if transit, and having more workers living downtown, takes care of the problem in the future, the garage spaces could be converted back to office space, housing, or retail. A garage is going to have to be constructed in any redevelopment of the former KCP&L Building anyway. The City will most likely be involved in subsidizing that parking, so make the City financial backing contingent of solving the problems of all three properties' parking issues.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by pash » Sun May 13, 2012 2:07 am

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Last edited by pash on Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by FangKC » Sun May 13, 2012 3:13 am

I imagine if it was so easy, Time Equities would have solved the problem at City Center Square by now. Apparently, even the building of garages for the P&L District didn't resolve the problem for City Center Square, which it probably should have. The garage on the Jones Store parcel should have probably been bigger, or more parking garage space should have been added somewhere else in the District to have resolved the problem--especially seeing that Time Equities had to give up the Jones Store property it had purchased so solve its' own problem.

Remember that One Kansas City Place also historically doesn't have enough parking spaces for tenants, so there is competition for those spaces that are close. I don't know if One Kansas City Place ended up resolving its' parking problem or not. I know at one time Executive Hills wanted to tear down the Empire (Mainstreet) Theater for a parking garage.

I imagine that those leasing office space to tenants also have to contend with proximity problems in that tenants aren't willing to walk more than a couple of blocks to their parking spaces.

I also sense that those who control parking downtown appear to hold their own spaces tightly, and "don't freely share" for lack of a better phrase.

For example, Copaken has a parking garage for 1201 Walnut, which is shares with Town Pavilion. If they rent out a lot of spaces to Time Equities for City Center Square tenants, then Copaken runs the risk of not landing a potential tenants in a competitive office market. Simply put, those who control parking are loath to share if it makes it easier for their competing property owners to lease out their vacant downtown office space.

Copaken then has an advantage over Time Equities in renting office space, because there isn't enough parking for City Center Square. Controlling parking spaces gives property owners competitive advantage over their neighbors who don't have enough.

Perhaps Time Equities has just grown tired of dealing with the problem, and wants to unload the building. Maybe it would be a good thing if an adjacent property owner with extra parking buys City Center Square, and the problem can be resolved that way.

That is why some buildings have been demolished in downtown for dedicated parking for specific developers. It wasn't because there weren't enough parking spaces inside the loop, it was because a developer didn't have access to them. The City can't make one property owner share it's excess parking spaces with another one.

I think Loftguy has said on this forum that some properties downtown have difficulty being redeveloped because they didn't have "dedicated parking for the property." Loftguy didn't say there weren't enough parking spaces downtown.

I recall the owner of the Clubhouse Lofts at one time wanted dedicated parking for his loft owners in the parking garage that Gailord, or some associated developer, was going to build under that proposed apartment building at 13th and Baltimore--that never was built. I think it was called Power & Light Condos. I think the Clubhouse Lofts owner rented in the Muehlebach garage, but he wanted his own dedicated spaces in a new garage on that site across the street. I think the plan was that the City would help fund the garage, and it would have public use. See photo in following link.

http://forum.kcrag.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... &start=320

I recall the same problem came up when 1006 Grand was redeveloped by Sherman Associates. I think those tenants park somewhere on 8th Street.

I would wager that one of the reasons that the Grand Avenue Temple building has never been redeveloped is partially because of lack of dedicated parking. It certainly contributes to that property not being as attractive to a developer. I would hope that Jason Townsend might buy that building eventually, and tenants could park in the former Federal Reserve Bank parking spaces.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by mean » Sun May 13, 2012 3:30 pm

So, which is it? Do we build more parking to try and increase occupancy, with the caveat that doing so even further negates the need / desire / political will for things like commuter rail into downtown? We're already not going to be able do "the Sanders plan" with anything but buses because the ridership isn't there. Is the lack of ridership due to high vacancy / not enough jobs downtown? Too much parking, not enough congestion? All of the above? It seems to me like a chicken-and-egg thing, where we can't justify subsidizing non-car transportation because we're already so committed to it, and we can't justify subsidizing car transportation because we are already so committed to it and need to focus on non-car transportation options.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by aknowledgeableperson » Mon May 14, 2012 12:56 am

I remember a discussion awhile back concerning building codes and the resulting overbuilding of parking spaces. I would imagine that City Center's, and One Kansas City Place, garage capacity was built to code and here we are with a discussion about the lack of parking for the building.

Is the lack of ridership due to high vacancy / not enough jobs downtown? Too much parking, not enough congestion? All of the above?
Yep, all of the above and probably then some others.

Even before the jobs in JoCo and the Plaza mass transit was not a necessity for a large majority of the workers, just a convenience. The Kansas City area just never had the congestion that plague other metros. When the downtown was the areas pride and joy the metro had other areas that were job centers. Fairfax, Blue River, two munitions plants, the Bannister and Troost complex, East Bottoms, the rail yards. Maybe another reason for a lack of congestion back then had to do with the number of people working downtown who carpooled. When we first moved to South KC in '57 (before annexation) my father went to work in the KCP&L Building in a carpool of 7 to 9 people (station wagon with the third seat). How many carpool like that today?

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by FangKC » Mon May 14, 2012 1:35 am

I think we have to do it in steps. The biggest priority right now is the do what is necessary to fill up the vacant office space, and vacant buildings, that are downtown. This is important for the tax base, and to help make P&L more successful, so the City can more towards the day it no longer has to subsidize P&L.

Transit won't solve the existing problem right away, because too many downtown workers don't live downtown, but are scattered all over the Metro. Transit will only solve downtown parking problems with MORE workers live in or near downtown, and then less garages will be needed.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to build more parking garages right now that help fill up buildings that are struggling, or can't get redeveloped because of parking issues. I think shared garages with street level retail or office space are the answer, and if the City subsidizes any parking garage, it must be a shared one that can help out buildings that have parking problems. This will also help avoid existing buildings being demolished just for surface parking. If the garages are also designed and constructed so that they can be converted to office or residential space later, after transit use grows and more workers live downtown, then they can be switched as parking demands are lessened by people using transit. Or garages that can be taken apart in pieces and removed. Like the Central Public Library, which was built using interlocking pieces. And perhaps they can be reassembled in other places they are needed.

Then the City should begin to plan for increased transit use downtown in the future by promoting residential density along transit routes.

After existing buildings are filled up, then any large new building constructed downtown will use shared garages in the neighborhood instead of propriety ones. To avoid the downtown loop being filled with future block-deadening garages, encourage garages to be built outside the loop on less desirable parcels that front the interstates. The City and KCATA could create "free transit zones" for those parking in shared garages outside the loop, so that workers would park off-site and take a bus or the streetcar to their job-site. Even with a robust transit system, there are always going to be downtown workers who live in areas where transit isn't convenient, and drive their cars. However, that doesn't mean that they have to park across the street from their job in a proprietary garage. They can park a few blocks away in a shared garage, and get a free ride the rest of the way.

I can think of several sites where these shared public garages can be placed. One is south of 19th Street and east of Oak where Children's Mercy Hospital workers park now. Another is the East Yards location at Union Station north of Washington Square Park, which would be near the streetcar line. The transit center on E. 3rd and Grand is another.

Then if we get to the point that transit is solving problems and less parking is needed, the garages can be converted to other uses. Office or apartment buildings can be built on top of them. In apartment buildings, residential parking will already be there for when the tower is built.

As more residential housing is built downtown, hopefully more workers will live near their jobs, and there will be less need for on-site parking in office buildings.

The out-of-loop shared garages could also help in that surface lot owners inside the loop might be more encouraged to develop their property (hopefully for residential) instead of keeping it devoted to worker parking.

I also think that at some point having a lot of talented workers living downtown will balance out the advantage suburban development has with its' free parking. Workers will be able to save more money by not driving, so it will be sort of like getting a raise. If you don't have to pay 18 percent of your income for transportation, there will be a net advantage to working downtown near your job that free suburban worker parking cannot meet.

It is the financial savings to urban life that will eventually make downtown competitive with suburban developments. Prices spikes in gasoline are eating up more of workers' pay raises these days, so it's harder to maintain a lifestyle in the suburbs.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by mean » Mon May 14, 2012 8:05 am

FangKC wrote:Transit won't solve the existing problem right away, because too many downtown workers don't live downtown, but are scattered all over the Metro. Transit will only solve downtown parking problems with MORE workers live in or near downtown, and then less garages will be needed.
I agree, which is why I'm talking about transit that can get people into downtown from Grain Valley, Blue Springs, Independence, Lee's Summit, Grandview, Gladstone, North KC, etc. Ultimately what we're both talking about is making downtown more accessible to commuters, in order to address vacancy issues. We can do this either by building parking garages or by building some--any, really--alternative methods of transit that do not require parking garages.

The trick with my suggestion is, of course, to implement something people will actually find desirable, and I have a feeling commuter buses ain't it. Given that that's the best we can hope for in this lifetime, my argument is purely about principle, and in reality we probably should build more garages, because people are only ever going to drive. That was decided long ago, and nothing we're doing now indicates a shift towards doing anything differently. Due to this, we should probably build massive municipal garages on every vacant parcel of land in the urban core, light them up with huge flashing neon signs that say, "HEY SUBURBANITE, THIS IS WHERE YOU PARK! COME PARK HERE! IT'S FREE!" and staff them with attendants handing out flyers explaining how complaining about parking in the city is ridiculous when there are 42 times more parking spots available in urban KCMO than there are cars.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by DaveKCMO » Mon May 14, 2012 8:22 am

data point: 51% of downtown residents work downtown, according to the 2010 downtown council resident survey.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by mean » Mon May 14, 2012 8:39 am

That makes me intensely curious what percentage of them drive to work, and what percentage of downtown workers are also downtown residents.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by DaveKCMO » Mon May 14, 2012 8:47 am

69% of those surveyed commute by car. the survey doesn't address it, but i assume the % of downtown workers (77,000?) who live downtown is small.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by DaveKCMO » Mon May 14, 2012 8:48 am


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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by loftguy » Mon May 14, 2012 9:02 am

mean wrote:That makes me intensely curious what percentage of them drive to work, and what percentage of downtown workers are also downtown residents.

Less than 25% of residents, River/31st & State Line/Paseo, work within the same geographical outline.

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by FangKC » Tue May 15, 2012 8:27 am

I've always wondered how many workers at Commerce Bank, UMB, US Bank, Bank of America, Bank Midwest, and Missouri Bank would also live downtown if those banks would invest in renovating old office buildings into housing or building new condo apartments buildings or townhouses nearby. Then, once they finance the new housing units, offer cheaper mortgages to their own employees as a job benefit if they live downtown.

Wouldn't Commerce Bank and Tower Properties, and UMB benefit by having a larger number of their staff living downtown so that they wouldn't need so much surface parking, and could develop their properties in the North Loop?

I know that the Federal Reserve Bank is lending to banks at nearly zero percent. Couldn't Commerce borrow money at that insanely cheap rate and loan it to Tower Properties to build condos on their North Loop parcels? Then give cheaper than market interest rates on mortgages to their own employees to buy the condos?

Bank of America was among the banks who took federal money for the purpose of stimulating lending. Wouldn't lending money to developers to build apartments downtown have been a proper use of that federal capital infusion? In a rare real estate market where there is 95 percent occupancy rate, I would think that it wouldn't be seen as bad investment. It would have also helped construction and bought goods and services to help the local economy. It also would have put more people near mass transit, and their jobs. Fewer people driving. Less carbon footprint.

This seems to me a way that everyone benefits.

Is there some legal reason they can't?

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Re: City Center Square for sale

Post by FangKC » Tue May 15, 2012 8:37 am

mean wrote:
FangKC wrote:Transit won't solve the existing problem right away, because too many downtown workers don't live downtown, but are scattered all over the Metro. Transit will only solve downtown parking problems with MORE workers live in or near downtown, and then less garages will be needed.
I agree, which is why I'm talking about transit that can get people into downtown from Grain Valley, Blue Springs, Independence, Lee's Summit, Grandview, Gladstone, North KC, etc. Ultimately what we're both talking about is making downtown more accessible to commuters, in order to address vacancy issues. We can do this either by building parking garages or by building some--any, really--alternative methods of transit that do not require parking garages.
The problem with developing a commuter transit system in Kansas City is the "lack of congestion." Most cities that have suburban commuter system have it because the roads are congested, and commuting times are frustrating and long. And because there is no parking once they get to their jobs. :D

Another side problem is the mommy worker. Many women are forced to drive to work because of daycare situations. They can't take the commuter train to their daycare provider and to work. If they have to get in a car to deliver children to daycare, they might as well stay in the car. However, a solution to this is to encourage daycare facilities to be along commuter transit corridors.

This makes me wonder about something else. How many employers downtown give free KCATA passes to their employees if they take the bus instead of drive to work? Isn't this cheaper than paying for a parking space?

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