Plans are brewing to reawaken the Folgers Coffee Co. plant in Kansas City’s Garment District as an apartment development.

The Alexander Co., an urban development firm with experience in downtown Kansas City apartment projects, is under contract to buy the shuttered coffee roasting facility.

The firm, based in Madison, Wis., has plans for a $30 million redevelopment of the Folgers plant into a 167-unit mixed-income project.

“With respect to Folgers, it’s unfortunate Folgers is leaving, given that the building is so prominent Downtown and so visible along Broadway as you enter Downtown along the Broadway Bridge,” said Matt Meier, vice president of real estate development for The Alexander Co. “It’s a very visible project.”

The Folgers plant, which covers two city blocks along Broadway between Sixth and Eighth streets, ended production in March. For years, it was the source of a coffee aroma that spread throughout the Downtown core.
The plant employed 50 when it closed, down from 179 in 2010 when Folgers announced it would shutter the facility.
Plant owner J.M. Smucker Co. is under contract to sell the building to The Alexander Co.
The Alexander Co. plans to apply next month to the Missouri Housing Development Commission for affordable housing tax credits. It also probably will seek a tax abatement from the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority.
Al Figuly, executive director of the PIEA, said that the Folgers plant had generated strong interest from several groups looking to convert the two buildings into a residential project, although he wouldn’t name its suitors.
The Alexander Co.’s track record in Kansas City can be found along Grand Boulevard. It was part of teams that redeveloped the Professional Building Lofts at 1103 Grand Blvd. and turned the old federal courthouse at 811 Grand Blvd. into the Courthouse Lofts.

“They’ve stayed pretty full and done well, but we get a lot of people that call that don’t qualify for the income standards, and so it makes logical sense to have some market-rate product (at the Folgers project) that we can refer our customers to,” Meier said.

Plans for the Folgers plant are part of a warming market for residential development in Downtown.
The Cordish Co. plans to build more than 300 market-rate apartment units in a high-rise building to be constructed at 13th and Walnut streets and a redevelopment of the Midland office building a block to the west.
The Power & Light Building, at 14th Street and Baltimore Avenue, is under contract to sell to Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates for a residential redevelopment.
Gary Hassenflu of Garrison Development also has plans for an apartment redevelopment in the West Bottoms.
Kansas City officials have long sought to boost Downtown’s residential population, which is considered a major missing piece in the redevelopment of the urban core because current foot traffic makes it difficult to sustain retail establishments.
Downtown’s present population of about 17,500 is insufficient to support retail development in the area, according to the Downtown Council of Kansas City. The group would like to see about 35,000 people residing in Downtown.
Meier said a finished apartment project at the Folgers plant would take on more of an industrial feel than the Professional Building and Courthouse Lofts developments in keeping with the current nature of the facility.
Amenities would include a fitness center, a landscaped courtyard and a swimming pool that would replace what now is a loading dock between the two buildings at the Folgers site.

“I think it will be a big hit for our future residents,” Meier said.