The Kansas City Star’s historic headquarters building at 1729 Grand Blvd. has been sold to a local developer who wants to redevelop the property as a first-class office project for up to 1,200 workers.
On Friday, The Star’s parent company, Sacramento-based McClatchy, announced it had sold the historic property and the 11-year-old Press Pavilion across McGee Street for a combined $42 million.
Vince Bryant, who recently participated in the successful redevelopment of the Corrigan Station office project at 18th and Walnut, said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to renovate the historic Star property.
“I’m looking at many different options,” he said, “but my number one hope is to create a campus-like office setting, one of the best in the city.”
Bryant declined to disclose how much he paid for the property, but did say it was the “smaller part of the deal.” He said his development partnership is called 1729 Grand LLC.
McClatchy said the Press Pavilion, which opened in 2006 at a cost of $200 million, was sold to R2 Capital LLC. The Star will lease back the building and eventually consolidate its workforce there, including its newsroom staff.
The Star reported in March that McClatchy was seeking $46 million for the two buildings and associated properties.
The headquarters building on Grand was built in 1911 and was designed by the renowned Jarvis Hunt of Chicago.
Among the generations of reporters who worked there was a young Ernest Hemingway. He covered crime and other beats a century ago before heading off to Italy to drive ambulances during World War I.
Bryant said his exploration of the building interior, which has been heavily remodeled and altered over the decades, revealed an “amazing” amount of architectural features that had been obscured.
The Star building actually consists of two parts, an east building where the old presses were located and the west building where the newsroom and other business operations were located.
Bryant said the west building has a 6,000 square-foot skylight concealed beneath the third-floor dropped ceiling that he plans to uncover as part of his renovation. The dropped ceiling also obscures art deco decorative columns.
“We discovered something new on every visit,” Bryant said.
The tentative plan calls for redeveloping the property into about 180,000 square-feet of office space and devoting 45,000- to 100,000 square feet for data centers.
The building has plenty of electrical capacity because of the power requirements of the old presses.
“It’s the type of project that will attract out-of-town, high-tech type companies,” Bryant said.
On the north side of the historic property currently occupied by a surface parking lot, Bryant plans to build a 600-space garage.
On the south side, where the landmark fountain is located, he wants to create a lane that would connect McGee and Grand, allowing vehicle access to the front of the building.
Bryant said undeveloped Star property along 18th Street between McGee and Grand is slated to be developed as a potential five-story apartment or hotel project or both.
Bryant said he envisioned the project would be redeveloped in phases, with the east building being done first. The west building would be redeveloped after Star employees were relocated to the Press Pavilion.
Bryant’s development firm, 3D Development, has developed the Corrigan Building, a 10-story structure that was once home to the Donnelly Garment Co., and the Creamery Building at 21st and Central streets.
Kevin Collison, a freelance contributor to KCUR 89.3, writes about downtown Kansas City for his website CityScene KC.