Kansas City has a rich history and there’s no place where you can see that history played out more clearly than in our array of landmark historic buildings. (Photo above is Hotel Cosby before redevelopment) Unfortunately, the city’s historic buildings haven’t always been preserved as well as we might have liked. We’ve talked in the past about the transformation of Troost Avenue and its gradual restoration to beauty and prosperity, and even Union Station, who spent almost two decades sitting in neglect before being renovated to its present state.
There are still a number of historic buildings sitting empty in and around Kansas City that could gain a new lease on life through the use of historic tax credits. Historic tax credits provide both state and federal credits for the rehabilitation of a “certified historic structure” for residential or commercial purposes. This could be good news for developers who want to create a unique personality for their project while also capturing a part of Kansas City’s history.
While the Western Auto Lofts building, with its rooftop sign that has become a KC landmark, is one of the best-known examples of a historical building in KC, many historical buildings you may not have ever heard of are being reinvented and given new purpose as lofts, offices, event space, and hotels, thanks to the help of historic tax credits.
The Globe building at 1712 Main, known for its large painted ads on the north-and-south-facing walls, is currently undergoing renovations and will reopen in mid-October as a haven for tech firms and startups. Spearheaded by Think Big Partners, LLC, its primary tenant, the renovation is combining the latest approaches to business with an eye toward the history of the city and the legacy of the building. Massive wooden beams will emphasize the history while open workspaces and a “startup store” are planned for the ground floor. While the Globe building isn’t even open yet, it’s already almost fully leased, a testament to the allure of combining high-tech approaches to business with the one-of-a-kind surroundings that only a historic building can offer.
Many of the renovations and reinventions of old buildings that are happening all over Kansas City are being driven by an appeal to millennials and tech companies, whether it’s a place to work, a place to play, or a place to live. While the Power & Light District has been booming, the iconic Power & Light building—one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in the city, and the tallest building in Missouri until 1976—was sitting empty until a recent renovation plan to transform it into more than 200 upscale apartments by the end of 2016 was signed.
The EDC, through its affiliated agencies (LCRA, PIEA, TIF), has been an active partner in several of these historic projects (Power & Light, Western Auto, Globe Building, and Cosby Hotel) and are currently working with the developers of the former Federal Reserve building and the long vacant Argyle Building at 12th and McGee in downtown.
From plans to convert the old Federal Reserve building downtown into a hotel, to the relocation of the Kansas City Ballet into the old Union Station Power House, it appears Kansas City’s history is being preserved and grown in the same places that it was made: in our buildings.