Downtown reuse, suburban build-to-suit and coworking trend dominate MWM Office Summit

Downtown adaptive reuse projects, suburban build-to-suit, and the explosive coworking trend are among bright spots in the Kansas City regional office market, according to panelists at MetroWireMedia's 2017 Office Summit on June 6 at The Grand Hall at Power & Light.

The redeveloped Corrigan Station project along the new Downtown streetcar line is considered the poster child for successful adaptive reuse projects in the region. Developed on a speculative basis by Copaken Brooks, Corrigan Station reached full occupancy within months of opening with the announcement that national coworking company WeWork would join Hollis + Miller Architects in the historic Crossroads building.

“Downtown is very authentic, and that’s the kind of environment that people want,” said Copaken Brooks Principal Jon Copaken. “So we will continue to be focused on the city center where people can move and use nearby amenities.”

While the tech-friendly vibe of Downtown and the Crossroads Arts District continue to attract creative relocation and expansion projects, the suburban office market-- driven by medical office demand-- is gaining momentum of its own.

“The interesting phenomena here is that we are all excited about what’s going on Downtown and the coworking opportunities, but demand for office space in the suburbs is still robust,” said Suzanne Dimmel, director at Cushman & Wakefield. “There’s up to 4 million square feet of planned office space in the suburbs currently on the horizon.”

Rick Baier, principal with CBC Real Estate Group, also sees opportunity in suburban office market development because of speed to market: “It’s hard for me to invest three or four years in a redevelopment project in the urban core," Baier said.

Whether urban core redevelopment or suburban build-to-suit, a key driver for companies continues to be access to amenities and technology investments demanded by the Millennial workforce.

“Millennials want a sense of place and a sense of culture. A lot of us just coming out of college want a campus environment. Being in a place where that is available is huge,” said JE Dunn Construction’s Jon Dandurand, the panel’s self-proclaimed resident Millennial.

Helix Architecture + Design Principal Erika Moody agreed that the rising Millennial workforce continues to drive design trends, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“What they are charging us with is a better work environment. They want the ability to take a break from work but also have a place for private focus. These aren’t necessarily things that relate to one generation or another. It is about how we each recharge,” Moody said. “And with a lot of the trends that we are seeing, if the Millennials are getting us outside and offering more access to amenities, I am all for that.”

Gerald Smith, founder of Kansas City coworking company Plexpod, served as guest speaker for the 2017 Office Summit. Matt Eckert of CBRE also served as a panelist.  

Check out the event slideshow below. All photos courtesy of Jacia Phillips, ArchPhotoKC

Townsend Capital invests millions in Lee's Summit infrastructure

Developer Townsend Capital has invested $10 million in infrastructure improvements to the area surrounding its $200 million, 80-acre development in Lee's Summit's Chipman Road corridor. The goal, according to Townsend Capital's Steve Rich, is to set the project apart by making it shovel ready for commercial use and development-all without the use of public incentives.

"The entire project area is better off for having new roads, new curbs, sidewalks," Rich said. "Seeing this project through to completion has been almost a decade's work in progress. We cannot wait to see how it continues to take shape..." 

The investment includes construction of the new $4.5 million Innovation Parkway and expansions of nearby Ward and Donovan roads, as well as new water, sanitary and storm sewer lines, and other improvements.

Lee's Summit City Manager Steve Arbo sees big economic development opportunity in the corridor, which city leaders previously identified as a prime undeveloped area requiring significant infrastructure investment to reach its full potential.

"These investments remove the obstacles that prevented this targeted area from becoming viable for economic growth," Arbo said.

More than $100 million in projects are under construction at the site, including the Missouri Innovation Campus building, Summit Square apartments and Holiday Inn Express. With more than 33 acres sold, 124 acres of zoned, improved acreage remain available for commercial development. Visit Townsend for additional information.

Fishtech headquarters brings startup culture to Martin City

Fishtech opened its new Martin City headquarters with a celebratory champagne toast rather than the traditional ceremonial ribbon cutting. Then again, there's nothing traditional about the new 20,000 square foot, $10 million building constructed by AL Huber. 

Featuring doors with special glass that can be shaded for privacy with the press of a button, a special "sleeping pod" for employees, and customized greetings and company details courtesty of Pepper the Robot, just about every feature of the space was personally recommended and approved by Fishtech Founder Gary Fish

Fishtech offers cloud managed security services designed to protect corporate data and expects to hire 100 employees by the end of the year. The company plans to further expand its presence in Martin City with construction of a new 20,000-square foot Cloud Security Operations Center on the north end of its headquarters.

Midwest Gateway groundbreaking signals new industrial product for booming Edgerton

The threat of a severe thunderstorm couldn't stop heavy equipment from firing up at Wednesday's official groundbreaking for Midwest GatewayCopaken Brooks' half-million square foot speculative industrial building in Edgerton. 

Midwest Gateway will be marketed to users seeking between 50,000 and 300,000 square feet, providing an alternative to the so-called "big bomber" industrial projects of over 500,000-1 million square feet that are the hallmark of NorthPoint Development's adjacent Logistics Park Kansas City, according to NAI Heartland's Russell Pearson.

"This is the first project of its kind in Edgerton that will be designed for 'smaller' users, small being relative, I suppose," said Pearson, who is co-brokering the project along with Nathan Anderson and Bucky Brooks. "We will be targeting distribution, manufacturing, and warehousing users who understand what drayage savings means for their businesses; as well as providing the opportunity to own or lease a custom-built facility in an irreplaceable location."

Located near the entrance to the BNSF Intermodal rail hub and virtually across the street from a newly announced UPS distribution hub, Midwest Gateway is poised to leverage the intermodal's advantages to help tenants reduce operating and drayage costs and maximize supply chain efficiencies thanks in part to proximity along I-35's heavy haul corridor.

"The supply and demand drivers for this size of building are unmet at the BNSF Intermodal," said Aaron Schlagel, vice president, development at Copaken Brooks. "The buildings allow flexibility for industrial users who need a more efficient building footprint and increased operational efficiencies due to Midwest Gateway's unique locational benefits."

Midwest Gateway marks Copaken Brooks first foray into speculative industrial development. Construction will be completed by early 2018.

"We are excited to deliver Midwest Gateway to the burgeoning Kansas City logistics and distribution market," said Bucky Brooks, principal at Copaken Brooks. "Midwest Gateway is an ideal project for us to extend our infill development expertise and deliver a state-of-the-art industrial project on a premiere site at the heart of the BNSF intermodal."

The buildings will feature tilt-up concrete walls and architectural glass, a minimum 32-foot clear height, 7” floor slab and T-5 motion sensor lighting. Accommodating multiple industrial uses, the buildings will have ample docks with the ability to expand, plus truck parking and trailer storage.

Project team members include GMA Architects, ARCO National Construction, Shafer, Kline & Warren, Krudwig & Associates, and Metro Air. Interested parties click here, or email for more information.

Insight: How business leaders drove Lee's Summit's $16 million interchange investment

Reconstruction of the 40-year-old bridge and interchange at Route 291 South and U.S. 50 in Lee's Summit has been a long-standing priority for the business community. 

Its bottlenecks and congestion actually led Chip Moxley, owner of Tingle Flooring, to choose a location farther north for his headquarters. Going through the site selection process enlightened Moxley that prosperity for south Lee's Summit would be held hostage until the intersection was improved. As a result, Moxley joined forces with the Gateway Business Alliance to lobby for public awareness and investment in transportation projects.

"This interchange is among the most important initiatives we have undertaken, and it is hugely gratifying to finally break ground on this project," Moxley said at the recent groundbreaking for the $16 million, taxpayer-funded diverging diamond project, which includes reconstruction of the Route 291 overpass bridge and an adjacent roundabout.

The interchange won't be completed until late 2018, but Lee's Summit Economic Development Council President and CEO Rick McDowell said its benefits from a business recruiting standpoint are immediate.

"This project opens up hundreds of acres for commercial development," McDowell said. "With The Grove mixed-use development to the southeast slated to begin spec industrial construction this year, and Pinetree Plaza shopping center on the northwest quadrant targeted for redevelopment, this new interchange truly will serve as a new gateway to the south side of Lee's Summit."

The interchange also will help ease congestion through a heavily traveled residential and commercial route while enhancing safety and improving access for pedestrians and cyclists, according to Lee's Summit Mayor Randall Rhoads. 

Radmacher Brothers Construction based in Pleasant Hill, Mo., is providing general construction services for the project, and GBA Architects and Engineers of Lenexa, Kan. provided engineering and design services. Additional project partners include the Lee's Summit Chamber of CommerceDowntown Lee's Summit Main Street, and Friends of Lee's Summit.

The interchange is funded through a three-part cost sharing agreement, with the City of Lee's Summit paying $8 million; the US Department of Transportation paying $6.8 million through funds secured through the Mid-America Regional Council; and the Missouri Department of Transportation paying the remaining $1.22 million.