Photo credit: Bob Specht, Project Manager/Developer at Think Big Partners
The Crossroads Arts District near downtown Kansas City has undergone significant changes over the past several years. Part of the revitalization is due to the restoration, not demolition, of old, historical buildings. Committed organizations like Think Big Partners are not only adding new furnishings and technical equipment in the buildings they rehab, but are finding new and innovative ways to reuse rather than destroy pieces of the Kansas City skyline.
The Globe Building Make-Over
In August of 2013, Think Big Coworking began to outgrow their space at 1800 Baltimore in the Crossroads district. Not only were they physically expanding, they had lofty goals to widen their entrepreneurial impact in Kansas City by creating a unique work space for startups. They envisioned a new larger space that would include all the elements needed for community work space but would also offer two floors of private offices for larger and more established companies.
The historic Globe Building on Main Street was the perfect answer. With the opportunity to design and construct an office space from scratch, Think Big Partners moved forward to begin reconstruction.
There was also, of course, the added bonus of the Kansas City historical tax credit. “It would have been cheaper to demolished the building,” said Sarah Snyder, a Partner and Director at Think Big. “The historical tax credit is literally saving the Kansas City skyline.” If not for this tax credit, the Globe building may have been flattened.
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.
Entrepreneurs In Archaic Buildings
Fast forward a year and a half later and the new Think Big space has been transformed into a unique entrepreneurial playground. With state-of-the-art technology, all-glass private offices and open, collaborative workspaces, this building is what many co-working spaces aim to achieve. And all this 21st century technology is housed in a building that’s over 122 years old.
Every space in the Think Big building reflects the old and the new. Snyder’s office features the original glass windows of the Globe Building, but also features an 8 gig wifi cable running across the ceiling! This juxtaposition of aged architecture and fresh innovation is something that Snyder thinks defines not only the Think Big building, but the entire Crossroads district.
“I think we’re in an age where we’re learning to recycle and not throw away,” Snyder says in regards to entrepreneurs opting to reuse and revitalize old buildings. While it would have certainly be easier to move their offices to a newer building, Think Big opted for the more grueling, yet arguably more rewarding way to create the space they wanted.
The Growing Crossroads Skyline
Think Big isn’t the first, nor will it be the last organization to put life back into a dying building. They are one of the many companies that now call the developing Crossroads area home. With the Kansas City street car well into construction, plans are in the works to recruit more businesses to the area. The Crossroads just might be entering a new, innovative golden age.
This blog is part of a new series aimed to highlight historical buildings that help define our Kansas City skyline. If you know of a Kansas City building that has a historical story to tell, please email it to Kaitlin Brennan for consideration.