Developer Wes Grammer of Sky Real Estate LLC could face opposition in his quest to convert an empty warehouse in the River Market neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan., to self-storage. Grammer has a contract to purchase the three-story building, which was recently listed for $1.5 million by Belger Realty Co. Inc., according to the source.
The property at 417 Grand Blvd. sits on a corner across from the Arabia Steamboat Museum and east of the historic City Market, a farmer’s market that also contains restaurants and retailers. The 51,000-square-foot building is also on Kansas City's year-old streetcar line.
Although Grammer said he understands why some community members think apartments or offices would be a better fit for the building, he disagrees. "We think storage is a great use, and it's the same use," he said, noting the site has been used as a warehouse since its construction in the 1920s.
He did consider apartments, but the property has no onsite parking, which would be an issue for that type of use. "And there are people building apartments on every other block down there," said Grammer, adding he surveyed the area and found it lacking in storage.
Grammer said he’d solve the parking issue by having tenants drive into the building via a large garage door located off Fifth Street.
Nearby property owners learned about the project on May 5 when Grammar applied for a continuation of the building’s “legal nonconforming use as a storage facility” under zoning that was enacted in 2011, the source reported. Some posted their concerns on Twitter.
"This has absolutely no support in the neighborhood. We'll need to speak up, but it's DOA,” tweeted Matt Staub, a marketing-agency owner and a board member of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, a nonprofit that manages, operates and maintains the line.
Community member Matthew Blain also posted a comment on Twitter, writing the project “seems like a market inefficiency if a relatively low-value use such as individual warehousing is still considered viable in that location."
Chris Sally, who’s redeveloping the historic Schlitz Brewery Co. complex just east of the warehouse, questioned whether the storage facility would cause an increase in traffic. “I think the River Market definitely needs self-storage, but I think there's a number of other locations where it would be better,” he said. "I know Wes is looking at it for storage, but I hope there are other tenants he could find that would represent a higher, better use for that building. I think it's an incredible building with the potential for a lot of uses."
The former chief development officer for Legacy Development, Grammer is also converting the seven-story American Electric Co. building in St. Joseph, Kan., to 140 apartments. The project is vastly different in that it contains three lots with 150 parking spaces, he said.
- Kansas City Business Journal: Developer Planning Self-Storage in River Market Told to Stow It