This site plan shows the 51 fourplexes to be built just south of I-435 and I-49.

Riverbirch development given okay

The KCMO City Council voted 12-0 January 17 to rezone about 50 acres of vacant land south of I-435 and just west of I-49 and to approve a development plan for the site that will allow construction of Riverbirch, a proposed upscale multifamily housing complex.

The project northeast of 107th St. & Cypress will contain 204 two and three bedroom units with garages in 51 two-story fourplexes.  

Construction is expected to start this spring and take a little over a year on its first phase which includes 27 buildings containing 108 units, Aaron March, the attorney for Riverbirch Associates, said at the January 16 City Council committee hearing on the project.  He said construction of the final 96-unit phase should start shortly after the first phase is complete.

March said the $28 to $30 million development will be surrounded by privacy fencing and landscaping all around the site.

Developers of the project on a rather odd shaped site did not seek any tax abatements or other economic development incentives from the city.

Jim Ellis, an owner and developer of the project, said at the January 14 meeting of the South Kansas City Alliance that the units will include numerous modern amenities and are expected to generally rent for over $1,500 a month.  He said the project also will include a clubhouse, pool, playground and large amounts of green space, noting it will be designed to appeal to young professionals working for south Kansas City employers such as Cerner and Honeywell and their families.

The two-story townhomes are expected to rent for $1500 a month.

The City Council also voted 12-0 to approve amending the Red Bridge Area Plan adopted in 2017 to change the recommended land use for the site from low and medium density residential use to medium-high density residential use.

Petitions protesting the rezoning, the amendment to the Red Bridge Area Plan and the River Birch development plan signed by 118 neighboring residents were submitted to the city before the City Council vote.


“To attract these employees to become residents, particularly young professionals, we need to develop more modern upscale multifamily and single family housing with the amenities they want. “

Among the concerns were the impact of increased traffic and whether the project would be successful in attracting tenants for the rent level it expects to charge.

While I understand the concerns of many neighbors, I testified before the City Council committee in favor of this project.  This is the first of what I hope will be many more upscale housing developments in south Kansas City.

Our part of town has been blessed with many new and expanded business and commercial developments that recently have brought thousands of good paying jobs to south Kansas City.  But bringing those jobs here doesn’t do as much as it could for our area if those employees just drive here from Johnson County or Lee’s Summit and get right back in their cars after work, hop on the interstate and head home.

Our area benefits more if they at least do some of their shopping here before they go home, but our greatest benefit will be if they relocate here to live and contribute to preserving and strengthening our neighborhoods.  To attract these employees to become residents, particularly young professionals, we need to develop more modern upscale multifamily and single family housing with the amenities they want.

Riverbirch, just about five minutes from the Cerner Innovations Campus, is the type of upscale housing project our community needs.

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