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Restoration Turns Empty Warehouse into Beautiful Apartments

The West Bottoms district just west of downtown Kansas City, Mo., was once home to the Kansas City Livestock Exchange, the Kansas City Stockyards, and the gigantic American Royal livestock show each year.

The industrial revolution and introduction of railroads made this district an important hub for cattle trade and other smaller industries.

Industrial activity left the area long ago, and since then, West Bottoms has reinvented itself in tiny bits. Empty warehouses turn into haunted houses each October or trendy flea markets on the weekends. But mostly, the entire area followed the fate of many districts in the U.S. just like it – suffering atrophy of its buildings as industrial and economic needs became obsolete or moved elsewhere.

However, in the last 5 to 10 years, the outlook for the West Bottoms has changed. Its signature venue, Kemper Arena, was renovated into a new amateur sports complex, restaurants have popped up, and developers have taken on larger-scale projects to update and adapt the uses of these old warehouses into multifamily residences. 

One such developer is MCM Company, which bought three adjacent historic buildings in 2016 and, in a $68 million project with design firm BNIM and general contractor Rau Construction, transformed them into a mixed-use space including a 265-unit apartment complex called the West Bottom Flats. It advertises amenities like bocce courts, an outdoor theater, rooftop patios, and courtyards. The complex also includes 10,000 square feet of retail space.

One of those buildings is the Abernathy, previous home to the Abernathy Furniture Company. Built in 1880, the Abernathy’s original painted lettering over red brick survived the decades and was one of the historic elements developers wanted to retain in its renewed use. They didn’t want to retain the years of atmospheric stains and general buildup of dirt covering the red brick exterior. They wanted that gone.