The West Bottoms hasn’t always been on the fast track for outside investment.

Apartment projects have surfaced in recent years. But before that, veterans of Kansas City’s real estate scene saw a recurring pattern: Out-of-town developers would take interest in the neighborhood and its underused historic buildings — but turn away once they understood the significant work, and costs, needed to redevelop there.

“I’ve had a lot of people come to town over the years and think that they discovered the West Bottoms, that everyone had overlooked it,” said Gib Kerr, a veteran broker in Cushman & Wakefield’s Kansas City office. “But actually, most of the local developers just couldn’t make it work.”

That was before SomeraRoad Inc. bought most of the central West Bottoms. From the New York developer’s local offices in a converted fire station, Grant Hromas will have a front-row seat to what assuredly is the area’s biggest single investment in decades — projected to reach $526.7 million of “live-work-play” development on 21 acres during the next 15 years.