Cushman & Wakefield

#FLEXKC Panel: Cold storage is next frontier for "on fire" Kansas City industrial market

Kansas City's industrial market remains strong, with more than 3 million square feet of speculative space currently under construction and 1.3 million SF completed in the first quarter.

But in order to succeed in the rapidly changing, omni-channel marketplace, communities and companies need to remain flexible on all fronts, ranging from operations to incentives to workforce development. That's the consensus of panelists at KC SmartPort's 2019 Industry Briefing, FLEXKC.

"While the economy and most indicators point to continued growth, the need for companies to increase flexibility in operations and hiring practices has never been greater. That is true of how companies build, use and occupy space as well,” said KC SmartPort President Chris Gutierrez.

One of the next waves in industrial development will be "Food on Demand" as consumers seek convenience and freedom from the kitchen. That means cold storage facilities are landing at the top of the shopping list for those scouting industrial locations.

"We are seeing an uptick in that sector," said Colby Tanner, BNSF Railway assistant vice president. "Over the last 18 months we have started to get a lot of inquiries from the cold storage sector asking how can we locate along the rail line or have rail access."

Although they come with significant investment and a subsequent boon to local coffers, cold storage facilities can present a challenge when it comes to incentives.

"These are really high-dollar projects, but they require a non-traditional workforce. So from an incentives perspective, you have a project with a huge investment but the challenge will always be workforce,” said Ann Petersen, Cushman & Wakefield managing director. 

Other barriers to entry include higher insurance costs, environmental impacts, and margins squeezed by waste.

"Food on demand is a challenging business, " observed longtime Amazon Site Selector and Keynote Speaker Mike Grella. "I think there’s room for growth there, but we are still in a period of experimentation and iteration." 

For a full event recap, click here.

Sprint HQ buyer Occidental eyes acreage adjacent to OP campus

Wichita-based Occidental Management expects to close on the Sprint Campus in the next 30 days. CEO Gary Oborny and President Chad Stafford talked with MetroWire Media about what led to the acquisition and plans for the sprawling Overland Park campus and adjacent land.

MWM: When did you first become interested in buying the Sprint campus?

Oborny: We heard that Sprint was looking at divesting at some point, so we started following opportunities to get closer to the situation and look at how we might connect on a potential deal. We sat back while Sprint figured out what to do. Then we contacted Cushman & Wakefield when the property was placed with them for a national search last year.  

MWM: How did your 2014 purchase of the former Overland Park International Trade Center (OPx) adjacent to the Sprint campus play into the acquisition?

Oborny: OPx was our introduction into the market. It helped us build relationships in Kansas City and Overland Park, so the Sprint campus was a natural fit. 

MWM: What is your short-term game plan for the campus?

Oborny: We want to enhance existing amenities and bring additional amenities for tenants who want to be on the campus. There are a number of cafeterias and food venues, so we will look at bringing in guest chefs and maybe freshening those spaces. We’re also looking at conceptual ideas to improve the overall aesthetics of the campus, so we will be look at revitalizing existing buildings to make them a little more contemporary... Eventually we’ll undergo a full rebrand of the campus. 

MWM: What will Sprint’s ongoing presence be?

Stafford: Sprint will continue to be the largest tenant, and the company is making a commitment to Kansas City with a long-term lease situation, but that’s all we can say right now. Sprint and Occidental are both focused on recruitment and retention of associates and employees on the campus. 

MWM: What is the current tenant mix and how do you see that changing?

Stafford: There’s a good mix right now between health care and financial services companies. There is also good infrastructure for technology-related companies, so there is opportunity there. 

MWM: What additional opportunities do you see? 

Oborny: We are looking at the 60 acres near 119th and Nall that have never been opened to commercial development. We see an opportunity to bring amenities to that vacant land such as hotel, restaurants and retail, but for right now we have to close. 

MWM: This is a huge transaction. What’s next for Occidental?

Oborny: Yes, it’s a big opportunity. We see a natural progression for us in Midwest cities, so development opportunities in the $100-$300 million range are certainly always of interest.

CushWake, Cerner team up to reboot sprawling Summit Tech building

Cerner has plugged into the Kansas City commercial real estate market, teaming up with Cushman & Wakefield to rebrand and launch the Lee’s Summit Integration Campus (LSIC), a 500,000-square foot tech hub at 777 NW Blue Parkway. Brokers were invited to a Feb. 14 luncheon and tour of the project, which comprises the north building of the former Summit Technology Campus (STC).

“We think it’s important that all of you know, as you bring prospects through, that this project carries with it quality ownership (Cerner) that is committed to providing a quality tenant experience and the promotion of health and wellness,” Cushman & Wakefield Director Suzanne Dimmel told brokers. “STC at one time was under one ownership, but the campus’ south building is now owned by a private group, and Cerner owns the north building, or LSIC.”

The rebranding effort includes brightly colored marketing materials and planned signage with the tagline, “The convergence of power, data, technology, people and community.” Current tenants include large data center and call center operations, with available space ranging from 5,000 to 147,000 square feet.

Recently added amenities include a remodeled cafeteria and employee lounge with flat-screen TVs, and a fitness track with “wayfinding corners” to track physical activity is in the works. Tenant signage options are available at LSIC’s various entrances, which are easily accessible to abundant surface parking.

“This campus has a bright future, and we have a lot of great space available here,” CushWake associate Leonard Popplewell said, adding that prospective tenants can receive smartphone-accessible 2D and 3D interactive conceptual floor plans tailored to their needs.

Jill McCarthy, vice president of corporate attraction for the Kansas City Area Development Council, told brokers that LSIC will be shared with site selectors and out-of-town companies scouting locations in the metro area.

“There’s a lot of project activity right now,” McCarthy said. “We are doing a lot to showcase buildings like this, and this type of product gives us something to talk about when speaking with clients and consultants.”

Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President and CEO Rick McDowell reminded brokers of incentive options available, proximity to a strong workforce, and local education system that includes an award-winning K-12 school district, community college and 4-year college. Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird thanked Cerner for its investment and presence in the community and reiterated the City’s pro-business environment.

CushWake is offering an incentive to brokers who bring the campus its first 20,000+ square foot deals: A free trip to Scottsdale or San Diego in the form of a $5,000 trip credit. The event included lunch catered by Third Street Social and guided tours.

For more information on LSIC, email suzanne.dimmel@cushwake.com or leonard.popplewell@cushwake.com.

Farm co-op plows ahead with plans for former Toys R Us building

The vacated Toys R Us Kansas City distribution facility in Lee’s Summit made national headlines when the retailer folded in early 2018. However, brisk demand for large, tenant-ready industrial space meant that the property sold quickly.

“The amount of interest from all over the country was quite impressive,” said Joe Accurso, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield. “The availability of a high-quality, fully racked, industrial building of this size doesn’t come along very often.”

More than two dozen potential buyers toured the 725,000-square foot facility at 420 SE Thompson Dr. near U.S. Hwy 50 and Mo. 291. Coincidentally the first company to come calling, Mid-States Distributing LLC, emerged as the winning bidder for the 41-acre property.

“This facility was an ideal fit for our rapidly growing company. When we learned of its availability, we knew the stars were aligning for us in a very special way,” said Mid-States President & CEO Tom Mahlke. “The Toys R Us situation, while very unfortunate for many, became our great fortune. We worked hard and aggressively because this was a great location geographically for our members.”

The leading farm and ranch retail store cooperative plans to invest more than $35 million in the distribution center, which will service a network of 39 member companies and nearly 700 retail locations in the U.S. and Canada. Mid-States will commence operations in the facility by the end of the year with immediate plans to hire between 30 and 35 employees within the next month to launch the operation.

Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President Rick McDowell said the high level of interest in the former Toys R Us space signals ongoing strength in the warehouse and distribution market and room for more activity in south Lee’s Summit.

“We had tremendous interest in that building,” McDowell said. “That leads me to believe that the addition of Mid-States will serve as a catalyst for ongoing business expansion and attraction in Lee’s Summit’s south side commerce corridor.”

Added Cushman & Wakefield’s Joe Accurso: “This property has created a wealth of opportunity for Lee’s Summit. I’m happy to see the building and area full of activity again.”

Florida healthcare technology company expands to metro with new Lenexa distribution center

Convey Health Solutions has expanded into the Kansas City region with a new 38,000-square foot distribution facility at Lackman Business Center, 106th Street and Lackman Road, in Lenexa. The leased space will accommodate the company’s expected growth in the government sponsored healthcare market, allowing Convey to more than triple its shipping capacity.

“As we continue to provide end-to-end OTC solutions for major health plans in the Medicare and Medicaid markets, we want to operate in a central location to provide better service to our clients and their members,” Convey Executive Vice President Jonathan Starr said. 

Convey’s benefits program is designed to help members better manage their day-to-day health while at home. With volume projected to grow more than 50 percent in 2019, the company’s new location will include the latest logistics technology to increase efficiencies and streamline the distribution process.

Convey plans to hire 40 employees at its Lenexa facility. Phil Algrim of Jones Lang LaSalle represented Convey in the transaction; Joe Accurso and Rob Holland of Cushman & Wakefield represented the landlord. Additional partners included the State of KansasCity of LenexaKansas City Area Development Council, and KC SmartPort. 

“Kansas City continues to attract distribution centers due to our access to markets and customers throughout the U.S., and Convey recognized this locational advantage,” said KC SmartPort President Chris Gutierrez. “We expect to see another great year of locational decisions in KC with manufacturing, regional distribution and e-commerce facilities.”

“It is always exciting to welcome a fast-growing company like Convey Health Solutions to our region,” added KCADC President and CEO Tim Cowden. “The KC region continues to rise to the top of the list of cities that are ideal for logistics, supply chain and distribution operations and we’re honored to be the newest home for Convey.”

Additional comments from project partners:

“Our state’s central location always makes Kansas the prime choice for companies looking to locate a distribution center, and combined with the Kansas City area’s already strong concentration of healthcare service companies, Convey Health Solutions couldn’t have picked a better location for its new facility,” said Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. “We are excited to have this pioneering technology company expanding in Kansas and look forward to our continued partnership.”

“We are very pleased that Convey Health Solutions has chosen Lenexa for their new facility,” said Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm. “This operation will feature top of the line technology and will serve as a showcase for the industry. I think Convey will be a great addition to the region.”