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.