The clock continues ticking down to when Lux Living can start building a 192-unit apartment complex at the former Katz Drug Store building in Kansas City.

City Plan Commission members on Tuesday gave a unanimous thumbs-up to the St. Louis developer's request to rezone 1.3 acres at 3948 Main St. to an urban redevelopment district.

The measure is a prerequisite for the Katz on Main apartments, which include construction of a seven-story multifamily building and 165-space parking garage behind the former Katz Drug building, plus amenities and offices within — and potentially atop — the historic structure.
In a post-meeting email, Lux Living CEO Victor Alston expressed his excitement to develop Katz on Main in Westport, which he described as a "special neighborhood."

"We enjoy working with the neighborhood and historic groups and are developing a building that everyone can be excited about along the new streetcar," he said.

The $50 million to $70 million project would be one block south of a future streetcar stop at 39th and Main streets, as one of several prominent redevelopment efforts along the extended southern route.

Development team representatives shared with planners several changes incorporated since its introduction in late December, in response to feedback from neighborhood groups.

Eastern portions of red brick exterior on the planned apartments, overlooking the Katz Drug building, were replaced with gray tones, and more glass was added to the apartment entry so the historic structure could better stand out, said Kevin Berman, a partner with project architect Hoefer Welker.

A roof over an outdoor patio also was removed to better emphasize the building's iconic clock tower, and an original two-story manganese brick base for the apartments was swapped out for a four-story red brick bend along Westport Road, Baltimore Avenue and 40th Street.

Design details, such as the shade of brick, banding elements and fenestration detailing, have yet to be finalized and could be affected as the developer fields comments from council members, Berman said in an email.

Lux Living also still is completing due diligence on the structural stability of the Katz Drug building's roof to determine whether it can support apartment amenities, including a planned rooftop pool, city staff said.

If the developer is allocated the historic tax credits it seeks for the apartments in late summer or early fall, work could begin toward the end of the year, though the construction start is flexible, said Roxsen Koch, a Polsinelli PC attorney representing Lux Living.

Lisa Briscoe, executive director of Historic Kansas City, recommended support for the apartment proposal during Tuesday's meeting, with a few reservations about its size, aesthetics and setback from the historic structure.

She described the Katz building — which her group included on its 2019 list of most-endangered city buildings — as a "high-priority save," adding that if done properly, new construction around the structure "is a price we believe it is more than acceptable to pay."

Joining in as a supportive voice was Kevin Klinkenberg, executive director of Midtown KC Now.

"We think the developer and the design team have really gone the extra mile in working with everyone in the surrounding community to adjust the project, listen to people and do what is necessary to make this a good project," he told city planners.