Kansas City’s First Skyscraper May Convert To Apartments

The Commerce Tower in downtown Kansas City is the target of a $71 million redevelopment plan. | Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
The Commerce Tower in downtown Kansas City is the target of a $71 million redevelopment plan. | Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Commerce Tower, a 30-story fixture on the downtown Kansas City skyline for a half-century, may find new life as a $71 million apartment and office project. The ambitious plan being pitched by Kansas City Development Partners would acknowledge the reality of the current weak downtown office market by reusing almost half the tower as apartments. The redevelopment proposal is scheduled to be considered Wednesday by a city development agency that calls for converting the office building, now 60 percent vacant, into 265 apartments while continuing to use 160,000 square feet as office space.

When it opened in 1965, Commerce Tower was considered the first modern skyscraper downtown. It was headquarters for Commerce Bank until 1985 and was sold to a California investor for $21 million in 2006. The building has steadily lost tenants in recent years.

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