Ground breaks for the rise of new downtown apartment building

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- City leaders moved the first shovels of dirt Tuesday to start construction on what they hope will be one hot downtown property.

The 25-story complex called "One Light" will be the first high-rise apartment building built in downtown since the mid-1970's. It’s a project Power and Light District executives say is part of a bigger transformation that's attracting more young professionals to the metro area and boosting the economy.

“What was once really a desolate downtown has become a vibrant, bustling downtown with an even brighter future,” said Nick Benjamin, executive director of the Power and Light District.

The $79 million apartment complex will be the first of four to soon go up in district, where the population now tops 20,000 people and where nearly $6 billion in private and public money is already invested.

“We’re really seeing in downtowns across the country a renewed interest in a walkable, livable, urban lifestyle,” Benjamin said.

The core demographic: Millennials, the hip, hard-working crowd in its 20's and 30's who want to live affordably where they work and play.

“It’s much more convenient to be here,” said Kyla Milburn, a 25-year-old who moved to downtown six months ago. “I hate driving, so I can walk to the grocery store, I can walk to the pharmacy, I can walk to get my nails done. It’s perfect to be in this area.”

Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James said attracting millennials is a sensible approach to ensure a secure future for the city.

“The way that we build cities now, we’re looking at those people that are going to be running the city in 75 years, 50 years, and their businesses that they start and pass on. We have to grow those seeds right now.”

An investment in tech-savvy up-and-comers and downtown infrastructure is a venture that Mayor James hopes will have an economic spillover effect for the rest of Kansas City.

“This is the heart of the city,” he said. “When you have a strong heart, the limbs will do okay. So that’s what we`re looking for.”

The new apartment complex will house about 450 people. The projected opening is set for November of 2015.

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