Troost mixed-use development starts with a community garden

A Denver developer

A Denver developer is working on a project around the Wonder Bread Building at 30th and Troost.

Soil at 30th and Harrison will become a community garden soon, but it is part of a plan to grow more than vegetables.

Denver developer and gardener Ilan Salzberg provided that 20,000 square feet of land called Troostdale Farm. The way he sees it, residents of about 80 new apartments could one day stroll over to get produce.

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Developer Ilan Salzberg envisions residents of the redeveloped Wonder Bread Building getting fresh produce from this garden just across Troost.

They would come from a planned mixed-use project he’s working on for the historic Wonder Bread Building at 30th and Troost.

Built for Campbell Baking Co. in 1915, it has been vacant since 1997. Before that, up to 300 workers there produced Wonder and Hostess products.

In what would be Salzberg’s first Kansas City project, he wants to turn the building’s 120,000 square feet into the apartments and 40,000 square feet of commercial space, working with local architect Caleb Buland.

And he chose to do it on Troost.

“I think it’s an exciting place,” he said. “I believe in it.”

People are moving into the city, starting charter schools and community gardens, he noted. “Kansas City looks like Denver 10 years ago.”

The new garden will be across the street from the existing Longfellow Community garden.

When he met with Longfellow neighborhood residents to talk about donating the garden space and money to work it, he heard what Denver residents told him a decade ago, he said. “I could have sworn I had just gone into a time warp.”

Salzberg, 40, once owned and ran an organic farm outside Boulder, before he moved to Denver to get a law degree and start his 15-year career in real estate.

“I’m interested in all kinds of things you can do with land,” he said.

In urban Denver he also started Ekar Farm, which still operates without him and donates food to the poor.

In the Wonder Bread Building, he wants to create what is called a third place, a spot where people can gather, a home away from their homes and offices.

That can be done with things like coffee shops or a brew pub, he said, and he is talking with a Denver brew pub and others in Kansas City.

Giant upstairs bathroom space in the two-story building would be perfect for a fitness club, he added. “When you clean it up, it’s going to shine.”

He is working with city planners and with financing groups, he said, and hopes to start the project late this year.

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