NSPJ Architects

Minnesota developer could resuscitate apartments at stalled River Market site


Rumors of development death on a River Market infill site up until this week have been greatly exaggerated.


A new builder, Oaks Properties, of Minneapolis, on Monday acquired a 0.62-acre property at 110 E. Third St., Jackson County property records showed.

In 2018, seller KC Commercial Realty Group won approval to build a six-story, 93-apartment complex there called Ashland at River Market. Plans reflected a goal to open the project in August 2019.


KC Commercial Realty Group in 2020 went on to demolish a commercial building that formerly housed Paw Paws Dog Care, but ultimately did not build on the site, leaving the lot barren and fenced off.


Now, Oaks Properties intends to polish the approved Ashland plan under a new name — Oaks River Market — as part of what President Norm Bjornnes described as a longterm commitment to Kansas City.


“When we make a commitment, it’s a generational commitment,” he said Friday. “We have a very simple mission, and that is to rent superior apartment homes in great neighborhoods. We like to build quality, operate well and then stay for a very long time, as far as the eye can see.”


For Oaks River Market, the developer plans a market-rate, mixed-use project with a two-level parking garage, though a final unit count has not yet been determined. The project won’t seek incentives.


“It won’t be radically different, and we don’t want it to be, because we thought it was pretty thoughtful design to start with,” said Bjornnes, of the new and old apartment plans.


Assisting Oaks Properties on its more than $20 million proposal are two local partners — AND Real Estate LLC, managed by Andrew Ganahl, and JDM Real Estate Solutions, LLC, owned by Jeff McMahon.


Bjornnes said the team ideally will break ground on Oaks River Market later in 2022, though he noted that project quality, not speed, will drive its schedule. Construction is estimated to take 18 to 20 months.


Oaks Properties’ first foray into Kansas City took place in March, when it acquired the 56-unit Centropolis on Grand community, which KC Commercial Reality Group successfully completed in 2016, a block southeast of the former Ashland property.


Gabe Tovar and Jeff Lamott with Northmarq’s Kansas City office represented KC Commercial Realty Group in both transactions.


A family-owned firm founded in 1970, Oaks Properties has developed, owns and manages about 2,600 apartments across the Minneapolis-St. Paul and Dallas-Fort Worth areas, many of them within transit-oriented projects.


Bjornnes flagged Kansas City’s streetcar, as well as general River Market and downtown vibrancy, as attractive market features.


“We’ve wanted to expand into a third market,” he said. “Kansas City was, we think, a good choice for that by virtue of its stability, its proximity to our existing portfolios and we think it’s got a bright future.”


The Business Journal Article

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