Historic Building Showcase: The Sprint Accelerator/Studio Building

In Historic Buildings, News by EDCKC Staff

Housing everything from a bakery to an ice house, the Studio Building in the Crossroads Arts District has had a long, diverse and colorful history. The building currently serves budding entrepreneurs in what’s known as the Sprint Accelerator, powered by Techstars. The Sprint Accelerator is a three-month, immersive, mentorship-driven program that helps startup companies build the future of mobile health technology.

Sprint Corporation took possession of the building in October of 2013 and reconstruction began shortly after. Built with the intention of drawing in startups from all over the globe, the Accelerator boasts both an open-workspace and private office environment. It’s interesting to see the mix of hi-tech development and historical preservation, as the building is actually more than 100 years old. Even more interesting is why Sprint chose to redevelop this old building.

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Doug Dressler, Manager at the Sprint Accelerator, was recently interviewed about the importance of entrepreneurs revitalizing old buildings in the downtown district. Here’s what he had to say:

Why an old building instead of build-to-suit office space?

Older buildings “feel” historic. They are great symbols of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, and they show people how creatively history can be combined with modern day innovations.

What does revitalizing old buildings mean for Kansas City?

It shows that our city is important to us and we don’t need to start from scratch to have great, usable, innovative spaces to live and work. There are so many fantastic old buildings in Kansas City that are sitting empty and if we used them, it would bring more life – not only to the building but to many of the surrounding areas.

Why the Crossroads?

We wanted to do something away from our HQ campus in Overland Park. We knew we wanted to be in a trendy, growing area but still show that we are a loyal KC company. We know that the Crossroads Arts District is full of design and technology startups so it’s the perfect fit for our mobile health goals.

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Do you see entrepreneurs reshaping our Kansas City skyline?

With the KC technology scene growing as fast as it is, we believe more entrepreneurs will be moving to Kansas City to grow their companies. With that growth comes the need for more office space, housing, schools, retail services and other resources, which could in turn, change the skyline if we choose to redevelop more existing structures like the Sprint Accelerator.

Cool features in the Sprint Accelerator that the public doesn’t know about?

The building went under significant renovations to accommodate a wide variety of activities within three distinct sections:

1) Community Space – Filled with soft seating and high top working tables, the community space is open to members of the entrepreneurial community to meet with investors, clients and mentors or plugging in to get a little work done.

2) Co-working – For members of the accelerator and close strategic partners there will be private work stations with locking cabinets and 24/7 access to the area. Sprint employees and close partners will call the Sprint Accelerator their home.

3) Accelerator Space – With private conference rooms, recreational space and a large open “office” area that can be set up with desks or event seating the top floor will be home to the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator.

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Large Fatboy bean bags, Big Ass Fans (actual product name) and “trust fall chairs” adorn the space to create a fun, relaxed and vibrant feel. Every meeting space in the Sprint Accelerator building is named after one of Kansas City’s historical entrepreneurial endeavors. For example, one of the meeting rooms is named, “Sliced Bread,” and gives a brief story about the creation of the bread-slicing machine.

The big picture goal is for Kansas City to continue being recognized as the country’s number one destination for entrepreneurial technology endeavors. The prospect always exists that these start-up companies will plant their stake in Kansas City and call it home for a long time to come. If we can attract them by giving them a hip, urban redeveloped historic space to work in, then that’s exactly what we are going to do!

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This blog is part of a new series aimed at highlighting 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 Kaitlin Brennan for consideration.

Photo credit: The Architect’s Newspaper, Mike Sinclaire