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Kansas City Buildings are Given New Purpose

by Danielle Tallman | Jan 31, 2017

Every nook and cranny of the Kansas City region is filled with history, especially its buildings. Over time, the city has evolved from flyover status to an attractive metropolis due to its thriving start-ups, record-breaking streetcar, and most importantly, the people. Along with the evolution of the city comes the evolution of its structures.

Buildings that sat vacant are now flooded with interested developers. Some strive to create mixed-use spaces, while others are very specific. The regional impact of these renovations is more than meets the eye; they are community shapers, job creators, hubs of creative opportunity, and economy boosters. Beyond regional benefits, these renovated spaces continue to shape the perception of KC and its national economic role. Ultimately, the developers and community want to give these buildings the same thing, purpose.  

To save “downtown’s most famous skyscraper,” the KCP&L tower, it has been renovated into high-end apartments with a stunning Grand Hall. The former Switzer School, was transformed into high-end apartments, but kept school house features like chalkboards and large windows in each unit.

During the renovation of Attucks School, local developers utilized a special laser scanner in surveying the building’s structural integrity to assist in its transformation into a community performing arts center and offices for the Kansas City Jazz District Redevelopment Corporation. Westport Commons, the former WestPort Middle School building, will soon be home to the largest coworking studio on earth. 


"It could be lofts. It could be office. It could be manufacturing," Dean Realty said. "But right now we've got a brewery looking at it. And we've got a hotel looking at it. In some form or fashion, we're going to get it redeveloped. We don't know how yet. But we've taken good steps to get it cleaned up and safe and largely secured."

The Imperial Brewery Co. building is amidst the planning process for a mixed-use development and taking renovation proposals. The building’s current owners plan on collaborating with future owners to include an outdoor space under I-35.

A post office purchased by InterUrban ArtHouse in Overland Park, Kansas, is now a mixed-use art studio soon to be fully equipped with classrooms, exhibition space, a coffee shop and more. A former post office in Lee’ Summit, Missouri, will become Co-Work Lee’s Summit; an area for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The plans also include a coffee shop and micro-deli.

Other notable renovations in the KC region include Mission Theatre and B&B TheatresTirzah (wedding design boutique), Corrigan Station, West Bottoms Reborn Project (completely centered around the arts), 3200 Gillham Road, Hilton President Hotel, Brookefield Building, Walnut Terrace, Mark Twain Tower, 3216 Gillham Road, University of Central Missouri Hendricks Hall Renovation Project and many more

Each renovation gives these structures an opportunity to once again impact the community and economy, all while preserving Kansas City’s history.   

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