Kansas City Star: Tour New Riverfront Luxury Apartments

BY SARAH GISH // Kansas City Star

The courtyard at Union Berkley Riverfront looks more like a resort than an apartment complex in downtown Kansas City.

Picture white lounge chairs in the shallow end of a sparkling turquoise saltwater pool with a waterfall. A cabana with string lights and a TV. Grilling stations, a CrossFit-style outdoor gym and a pickleball court.

Those are a few of the luxury amenities that Union’s developer, Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties, is using to lure residents to Berkley Riverfront, an emerging neighborhood along the south bank of the Missouri River.

Union Berkley Riverfront exterior

Union, a $75 million mixed-use project, features more than 407 apartments in two buildings, plus a parking garage, retail space and offices. Tenants start moving into the west building on Friday; the east building is expected to open in August.

Around 55 apartments are already leased. Rent ranges from $1,000 for a 500-square-foot studio to $7,000 for a 2,210-square-foot penthouse suite with three private balconies, 22-foot ceilings, a chandelier and eye-popping views of downtown and the river. By the way, that penthouse is still available.

 Union Berkley Riverfront apartment kitchen
One-bedroom apartments cost $1,250 to $1,500 a month, which is comparable to — if not slightly lower than — the price of similarly sized units at Two Light, a luxury high-rise in downtown’s Central Business District that opened earlier this month.
Union’s apartments feature smart thermostats, LED lighting, oversized energy-efficient windows and laundry rooms. Their kitchens include movable islands, quartz countertops and GE Energy Star slate-finish appliances that don’t show fingerprints.

Many boast balconies with views of the river to the north, downtown to the south, the Christopher S. Bond bridge to the east or the Heart of America bridge to the west.

Those views made the site “kind of a no-brainer” for an apartment complex, says Ryan Cronk, vice president of development with Flaherty & Collins.

He adds that the location is also key: Future Union residents will get easy access to I-29 via Front Street. The River Market is a quick drive up a viaduct that leads to Grand Boulevard, or a short walk across the Town of Kansas bridge.

Still, “people thought we were crazy for coming down to the riverfront,” Cronk says.

That’s because for years, the area was neglected — it was once home to the city’s tow lot and dumping grounds. Now it attracts active, outdoorsy types with sand volleyball courts, a wetlands restoration area, free fitness classes and the Riverfront Heritage Trail, a 15-mile bicycle and pedestrian path.

Union broke ground in 2016 on land owned by Port KC, the Port Authority of Kansas City, which hopes to totally transform the area where downtown meets the river.

“The vision is for an urban village on Kansas City’s riverfront,” says Marissa Cleaver Wamble, Port KC’s vice president of corporate communications. “With so many other cities, their riverfronts are the place to be.”

Many hope that the Union development — and a proposed streetcar expansion to Berkley Riverfront Park — will awaken an underutilized slice of Kansas City’s urban core.

Wamble describes the apartment complex as “urban living with a little bit of a suburban feel.”

The four-story building is surrounded by green space. An outdoor dog park with artificial turf is under construction on top of the parking garage, and a dog park bar called Bar K is being built to the west. Union residents receive three months of Bar K membership for free.

The west building also features two tiled dog washing stations on the main floor — one for little dogs, and one for big dogs.

“If you’re a pet owner, there’s not a better place to be,” Cronk says.

The west building’s other amenities include a coffee bar with a full-time barista who will make free lattes for residents, a gym with treadmills overlooking the pool, and a bike lounge with a ping-pong table and beer tap. Cronk says residents might swipe a card to get a beer, but he’s not sure yet whether they’ll have to pay for it.

Union Berkley Riverfront

Cronk says that when it opens this summer, the east building will have spinning and yoga studios and a library-style lounge.

Those amenities are attracting mostly millennial residents to Union, but Cronk says some early tenants are retired or empty nesters looking to downsize.

Residents aren’t the only ones getting ready to move in: A nail salon has signed on to rent retail space, and Port KC plans to relocate its offices from the River Market.

Cronk says there’s one type of business that he — and surely, future tenants — would like to on the riverfront.

“We’re looking for a restaurant and bar,” he says.