NSPJ Architects
Streetscape at Congress Lofts in Kansas City, Missouri Designed by NSPJ Architects

The Evolution of Congress Lofts

Turning a previous office and retail mixed use historic building into a 53-unit modern apartment building was a labor of both love and expertise.

Building circa 1981. Photo by Mary J. Matthews.

Located in the heart of midtown Kansas City at 35th Street and Broadway Boulevard, the neoclassical style Congress Building was completed in 1925 for the Congress Garage Company. It was designed by noted Kansas City architect Robert F. Gornall, who is remembered for his significant contributions up and down Broadway Boulevard from 36th to 39th Streets, including the Barclay Building, the Hyde Park Hotel, and the Uptown Theatre. The Congress Building was inspired by the Kansas City Life Building slightly north on Broadway. Built from brick and reinforced concrete and faced with Indiana limestone, the original structure consisted of four floors; a fifth floor was added in 1927. The garage entrance is at the northwest corner of the building, originally leading to space for 150 cars (now 125).

In 1945, the Congress Building was purchased by the owners of the Ambassador Hotel (at 3600 Broadway) to provide parking for the increasingly busy neighborhood. The building was first noted by the National Park Service via the Ambassador Hotel historic district registry in 1983; however, it was not registered individually until NSPJ became involved in 2013, following the building’s purchase by Del Properties.

Mixed use redevelopment planning began in 2012 amongst slipping office occupancy, and spanned almost five years, completing in 2016.

With the help of historic architectural consultant, Strata Architecture + Preservation, we were engaged to design the conversion in the Fall of 2013, creating both residential and first level retail spaces. Our first step was to assess the current condition of the building and identify original features that needed to be retained, most of which had been renovated during the building’s life.

Exterior facade original detail circa 1981 (left, photo by Mary J. Williams) and exterior facade during construction (right).
Original exterior sconce circa 1981 (photo by Mary J. Williams) and exterior sconce after renovation (right).
Original staircase circa 1981 (left; photo by Mary J. Williams) and stair railing after renovation (right).

Renderings were developed to help convey the vision for the apartment interior.

Renderings of living area (left) and living area, kitchen and balcony (right).
Renderings of living area (left) and living area, kitchen and balcony (right).

It was important to the client to retain as many original elements as possible, while also creating urban, modern, expansive living units that would appeal to the competitive midtown rental market. The 115,000 sf building was demo’d to its concrete and brick shell. New infrastructure installation began, along with historic window refurbishment and replacement. New units were installed to include interior glass to “harvest” light in long, linear units and brighten their interiors.

Hallway during construction (left) and during painting phase (middle), and lobby during construction (right).
Hallway during construction (left) and during painting phase (middle), and lobby during construction (right).
Individual unit terraces during renovation, prior to dividers being installed.
Individual unit terraces during renovation, prior to dividers being installed.

Now completed, Congress Lofts is the new home of 53 market-rate apartments, second-floor offices, and five ground floor retail spaces, one with an operable storefront and outdoor sidewalk dining capabilities. The existing parking structure was extensively renovated and modernized, with the top three levels converted into split-level lofts. A fitness room was added and the rooftop was augmented with a sundeck. Three units include private roof decks and the three levels of units in the former garage have large, covered outdoor terraces. First floor retail will include a coffee shop, a pet salon, and an on-site management office.

Roof deck nearing completion (left) and kitchen in unit (right) nearing completion.
Community space (left) and loft sleeping area (right) nearing completion.
Congress Lofts exterior after renovation, with glistening refurbished sconces.
Congress Lofts exterior following renovation, with glistening refurbished sconces.

Below is a small sampling of what the brand-new Congress Lofts looks like. To see even more photos, view the completely renovated Congress Lofts  here.

Completed 5th floor hallway (left) and common area (right), ready for residents.

If you would like to make Congress Lofts your new home, contact management today.

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