When it comes to their vision for the Troost Village Development, Jonanthan O’Neil Cole and Tim Bowman practically finish each other’s sentences, they said.
“Both of us fight for the history of the project,” said Bowman, who owns Compass Resources — the managing member for the effort. “It is a blessing to be part of the development; it’s a really amazing opportunity.”
The $140 million project includes the renovation of four historic buildings (the Belmont, Firestone, Michaelson and Shankman), along with two buildings that are not on the historic register (the Tycor and Harkness).
Boundaries for the project run north-south from 31st Street to Linwood Boulevard and east-west from Forest Street to Harrison Street — crossing Troost. The development area touches such Troost destinations as Thelma’s Kitchen and the in-the-works Laugh-O-gram Studios rehab project, and sits just south of Operation Breakthrough at 31st and Troost.
“It’s such a historic site — all of the buildings pretty much go back to the Pendergast Era [the 1920s Prohibition period],” said Cole, who is the founding principal of Pendulum Studio — the architecture firm selected for the Troost Village Development.
“I remember moving to Kansas City and going over to look at all these buildings,” he continued. “Nobody had done anything with them for about 55 years. Part of that is just because they were in such bad condition. And part of it is because it takes vision.”
Details from the Pendergast Era — such as marble walls and terrazzo floors — were covered by a couple inches of dirt and trash buildup when Cole first visited the site, he shared.
“We’re in the phase now where that damage is starting to be cured; the bones of the buildings are being put back together, so that we can move forward and progress our vision,” Cole said.
Click here to read more about Jonanthan O’Neil Cole and Pendulum.
The duo plans to bring Troost’s history to the forefront of the project, paired with interior designs inspired by a New York Harlem aesthetic, Bowman explained.
Acknowledging the immense racial history on and along Troost, the duo emphasized the importance of including the community in the project.
“Development is certainly about profit, but the bigger aspect for [Bowman] is diversity on his job site,” Cole said. “It’s not your typical ‘go find the biggest contractor.’ It’s about engaging the community and giving opportunities to people who live around the area.”
About 65 percent of the contractors who are under contract for the development are minority business enterprises (MBE) and/or women business enterprises (WBE), Bowman stated.
“Several of the MBE, WBE clients are also tenants,” he said, noting that the development includes a new apartment complex. “We’re currently running about 70 percent non-profit or for profit MBE, WBE tenants who are going to be leasing from us. So we’re really excited about that, and we think this is going to be fantastic for the community.”
Green spaces, rooftop pools and shared culture
Bowman is most excited about (as of January 26 — he noted, as he finds a new surprise to the project every day): an Osage Nation Museum that is a proposed tenant for the Tycor building.
“What happened is somebody did renovations back in the 1980s — really poorly done renovations,” Bowman shared. “We tore that off and found this incredible, gorgeous set of buildings that had all kinds of crazy character. We’re also very happy to be working with the Native American Indians to make sure that their history is not forgotten.”
The team will be working specifically with the Osage Nation who walked through the area during the Trail of Tears in the early 19th century, they said.
The distinctive old Firestone building at the corner of Linwood and Troost has various amenities that Cole is thrilled to help bring to the community, he said.
“We’re adding a community gymnasium, as well as a spa and rooftop pool,” Cole stated. “… There’s an ecosystem that [Bowman] is building here that I think will be well-curated.
“The other thing that I really like is the community green space,” he continued. “There’s this green space planned to go right in the middle of it all that will create a gathering space.”
The Troost Village Development is a four-year project with the team currently on the first phase, Cole said. It’s fulfilling as an architect to see your design come to life — and to do so in good company, he said.
“[Bowman] walks the entire site every day,” Cole shared. “He knows every inch of every building there. It’s an amazing project, and I’m glad we are able to work on it together.”
Watch a virtual experience exploring the Troost Village Development below.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.