Urban Upgrade

3910 0

Downsizing from suburbia to Union Hill afforded this Kansas City couple views, brews and more.

Story by Rachael Hedgcoth   |   Photos by Gary Rohman

It’s been roughly 10 years since Kristy and Carl Reincke bid farewell to their suburban life in Lenexa, Kan. And they have never looked back.

That’s not to say it wasn’t an adjustment to leave 2,600 square feet of living space, a big yard and a spacious garage.

But for the Reinckes, the trade-offs have been well worth the sacrifices in space.

Long-settled in their 1,650-square-foot, fourth-floor condo in Kansas City’s historic Union Hill, Kristy reflected back on the couple’s decision to leave their Lenexa home.

“That was a lot of space for the two of us, so it was easy to downsize,” said Kristy. “Condo living appealed to us because of the maintenance-free living.”




Historic Roots

The couple began exploring condos downtown, in the West Bottoms and on the Plaza, and ultimately fell in love with the iconic Greenlease Cadillac Building on McGee Street.

Built in 1918 by Robert Greenlease to house the Greenlease Motor Car Company, the building was later sold to Hallmark Cards, Inc., which used the building for storage for 20 years. The property was eventually sold to local developer Bob Frye of Union Hill Development Group, who renovated the building into 29 luxury condominiums.

Modeled after the 1920s New York apartment house style, the condos were completed in 2006. The building’s athletic club, once the dealership’s showroom, still retains original features such as marble floors, high ceilings and columns topped with original Cadillac logos.

The Reinckes came across the building during the initial phase of construction and opted to purchase a two-bedroom, two-bath unit.

Kristy said the couple’s list of must-haves included an open floor plan and two bedrooms, including a master suite with a large bath and a walk-in closet. Additionally – after enjoying the convenience of a personal garage – two heated garage parking spaces were ideal.




“It was a fun process,” said Kristy of being involved in the construction process. “The floor plan was already in place, but we got to pick out tile and we changed a few other things. We would look around and see what everyone else was doing in their condos and we got to know our neighbors. There were residents ranging from young people on up to empty-nesters. A lot of the same people are still here.”

For Kristy, a now-retired regional sales manager, and Carl, a software engineer, the condo offered a fresh new lifestyle.

“We wanted to be in the heart of the city so we would be close to cultural events, the arts and restaurants,” said Kristy.

While the couple enjoys amenities such as the popular Martini Corner and Liberty Memorial located within walking distance of their urban dwelling, they are also perfectly content to enjoy the city from their soaring windows.

Easily the condo’s most notable and coveted feature, a wonderful wall of glass frames an inviting outdoor balcony and sweeping views of the Kansas City horizon.

“I love that our windows have a great view of the downtown skyline,” said Kristy.

With azure skies and deck chairs beckoning, savoring the sights and sounds of Kansas City from an elevated al fresco perch is an everyday treat.




Of Masks & Modern Spirit

Inside the condo, a cheerful fusion of engaging artwork and vibrant colors attest to the dynamic personalities of Kristy and Carl.

From the front door, the floor plan leads into an open space outfitted with an efficient galley kitchen, dining area, living room and laundry room. Maple cabinetry, granite countertops, an expansive island, crown molding and hardwood flooring are among the elegant appointments in the condo’s main living area.

The layout is topped off with a roomy master suite and a second bedroom that serves as an office (95% of the time) and a guest suite, thanks to a discreet Murphy bed that folds up into the wall.

Above all, the entire condo also doubles as a canvas upon which the Reinckes can showcase their diverse art collection.




“We have always enjoyed decorating and collecting art,” said Kristy. “We have found a lot of our art at the Brookside Art Fair, Westport Art Fair and the Plaza Art Fair. We have also collected pieces during our travels to destinations such as Italy, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Mexico, San Diego, Denver, Jackson Hole and Seattle. The end result is a collection of art that makes us happy.”

Certainly the most eye-catching pieces are the 35 masks that hang on a metal display rack on the main living area’s wall.

Whimsical, comical, curious, intriguing and serene faces of myriad materials seem to spill secrets of mystery and merriment.

While many of the masks were procured via domestic travels, many were also discovered in the City of Fountains.

“Our mask collection started when we attended a fundraiser for the Mattie Rhodes Center,” said Kristy.

Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Mattie Rhodes Center is a nonprofit agency that provides a holistic approach to individual and family well-being through social services, behavioral health counseling and the arts.

“Children in the Mattie Rhodes art program and local artists donated masks for the annual event,” said Kristy. “We acquired several of our masks from that event over the years.”

She added with a laugh, “The wall is full now and we can’t buy any more masks!”




Savoring the City

Elsewhere around the condo, abstract paintings, a collection of lamps and other creative décor lend a prismatic flair to the home’s design palette and contribute to a decidedly modern sense style.

Above the glass dining table, a one-of-a-kind pendant light fixture, created by a Lawrence, Kan., artist, grants multi-color interest to the room.

“Hence the reason for the different colored dining chairs,” said Kristy. “We love color.”

An artistic and animated pack of miniature dogs, showcasing various looks and poses, play quietly in the corner of the master bedroom. (Clearly, they make the perfect low-maintenance pets.)

When not relaxing in their cozy environs, Kristy and Carl often enjoy dinners out with neighbors, attending performances at the Sprint Center or exercising at the Union Hill Athletic Club inside the building.




Further, in the warmer months, Kristy indulges her inner gardener with a miniature patch of cucumbers, peas, green beans, carrots, onions, lettuce, spinach and tomatoes.

“There is a woman who owns a nearby house with an adjoining lot and she created an urban garden project called Sprout,” said Kristy.

Along with several other area residents, Kristy rents out a modest plot in the 32nd Street “Trophy Garden” where she can grow vegetables to her heart’s content – all within a short stroll of home.

As the warmer temperatures slip ever closer, the days to come will bring plenty of opportunities to tap into all that Kansas City offers.

“We enjoy walking to the Memorial, Penn Valley Park, Crown Center, Union Station and other places whenever we get the chance,” said Kristy.

For the Reinckes, city living is fine living indeed.



Developer:  Bob Frye    |    Closets:  Kansas City Closets    |    Floors:  Crider Carpet    |    Backsplash:  Questech Metals and Dunis Studios Glass    |    Appliances:  GE Profile    |    Deck:  Jim Affolter, Composite/TimberTech

About The Author