Big dreams for downtown Peabody

Managing editor

Tony Krsnich is the real deal.

In the short time he has been in the development business, the entrepreneur has been part of numerous renovation projects with 10 currently in the works.

The most notable is the $9.2 million Chatham Hotel renovation project in the works in Kansas City, Mo.

And now, the Leawood man wants to leave his mark in downtown Peabody.

There is a contract pending with Krsnich and Landmark Investment Group to purchase five buildings, formerly occupied by Baker Furniture.

The buyers plan to renovate the upstairs of the buildings into apartments and make space available for retail businesses and possibly more apartments on the ground floor.

“We get three to five calls a week from people looking for rentals,” Peabody Main Street Association Director Shane Marler said.

Krsnich was in Peabody last week, taking another look at the buildings and talking development with the city’s development professional.

“I want to bring people back to the downtown area,” Krsnich said. “They may want an Irish pub or a pizzeria.

“It’s a shame that people have to drive to Newton or Wichita to have an evening meal or hear live music,” he said.

The Kansas City developer knows local buy-in is important. He doesn’t want to promote and develop something that isn’t going to be well received.

“The space can be customized for potential businesses,” Krsnich said.

Krsnich plans to apply for a Kansas Historic Tax Credit specifically for historic buildings.

He likes restoring old buildings.

“I don’t do this just for the money,” Krsnich said, particularly not for projects with the small scope the Peabody project will have — about $2 million.

He does it because he loves to see historic buildings become vital and useful again.

So, how did a Kansas City area developer decide to develop in Peabody?

Marler had testified earlier this year before the House Taxation Committee regarding possible budget cuts to state historical tax credits.

“I told the story of Peabody Main Street Association and the Baker Buildings and how, without the tax credits, Peabody would have little or no chance of filling those buildings,” Marler said.

“When I heard this, a spark went off,” Krsnich said. “I gave Shane my card and we began to communicate.”

And communicate they did. Marler heard from the developer the next day.

A seasoned developer in the making, Krsnich knows it takes 10 conversations for one project to actually happen.

“I was impressed with Peabody because, despite its size, it is forward thinking in economic development and rejuvenating its downtown district,” he said.

Krsnich finds ways to generate tax credits, which are sold to investors, to fund properties. Even though the Peabody project was smaller than what he normally develops, he was interested because of the historical significance.

The young developer is no stranger to the Peabody area he grew up in Wichita.

“I remember coming to Peabody as a kid,” he said.

Krsnich compares Peabody to a town in Missouri after which he plans to model his buildings.

“Peabody reminds me of Weston, Mo.,” he said.

“When doing a project it’s good to look for something that has worked,” Marler said.

Landmark Investment Group, of which Krsnick is president and chief operating officer, wants to do this project the right way.

And they have to do it a certain way — not only to qualify for the tax credits but also to maintain them.

“The federal program has a five-year compliance program or the tax credits can be recaptured,” Krsnich said. “Some programs have 15-year compliance periods.”

During the compliance period, the developer retains ownership.

“Tony’s interest is to help the community,” Marler said, and isn’t only driven by monetary benefits.

Currently, Krsnich’s company is also developing properties in Hutchinson and Salina.

“This project may not be as complicated as some of my other projects but it is important,” he said.

Marler said when Baker Furniture left downtown Peabody, the empty buildings became an opportunity for the community.

And now, after meeting Krsnich and having this project on the horizon, Marler is pleased with the probable outcome.

“This is the best possible scenario for Peabody,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to make it happen. I consider this to be a turning point for Peabody.”

What’s next and when will it happen?

The Bakers and Krsnich have signed a contract.

“When financing is approved, we will purchase the buildings,” Krsnich said.

He anticipates financing to be in place later this year.

Community meetings will be planned to give residents an opportunity to address concerns.

“It also gives me an opportunity to ask questions,” Krsnich said. “The best market study is from having conversations with the community.”

 

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