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Downtown Kansas City, Mo. residential population on the rise

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The downtown residential population in KCMO has quadrupled in the last 10 years, and that number continues to grow.

A groundbreaking took place at the historic Power and Light building on Monday, and it’s one of many downtown buildings that's going to get a makeover.

Just to give you an idea of how strong the desire and demand to live downtown is -- an apartment building called One Light currently being built has more than 1,000 people on the waiting list.

"Downtown is kind of a cultural hub," said Coty Beasley, who has lived downtown for three years.

He already has a spot in One Light, a 25-story, 315 unit apartment building that's been under construction since April.

"Residential has always been part of the long-term plan for the power and light district," said Nick Benjamin, the executive director of the Power and Light District.

"I don't think there's any other way to put it than it's phenomenal what's been going on downtown over the last seven or eight years," said Benjamin.

He says the downtown residential population has more than quadrupled in the last 10 years.

"It was 5,000 in 2004, it's over 21,000 now," added Benjamin.

"It's where all the activity is happening, kind of the heart beat of where the city is at and everything," said Beasley.

Benjamin says rental occupancy is 99% downtown, which is why so many more buildings are being built, or redeveloped.

"There's been $6 billion in public and private investment downtown over the last 10 years from the Power and Light District, to the Sprint Center, to the Kauffman Center," Benjamin said.

Beasley says the city-like feel is what draws him to the area.

"Being with the big buildings, with the architecture here, is something that I very much like," said Beasley, "I like a walkable environment, I like being able to get some exercise, see what's going on, that sort of thing."

The groundbreaking for the historic Power and Light Building was the first step in transforming a vacant building into apartments for the growing number of downtown residents.

"There's a tremendous amount of entertainment infrastructure now downtown which has led to a tremendous desire for people to live downtown," said Benjamin.

One Light has taken deposits on 75 units already.

"I think a function of how much demand there is downtown right now," Benjamin said.

One Light apartments is a little less than a year away for the first move in. Prices range from about $950 a month for a studio to $3400 for a penthouse.  It's the first of four towers developers are planning to build.