Published October 19th, 2023 at 11:30 AM2 minute read
By Kevin Collison
Crown Center is bucking the sluggish national and local office market trend, adding or renewing leases this year totaling 167,000 square feet with the biggest catch the Kutak Rock law firm.
Stacey Paine, president at Crown Center Redevelopment, credits the mixed-use formula that was the foundation of the development more than 50 years ago with its success in adding and renewing tenants this year.
“The things we’ve been doing and offering for a long time are resonating with employers trying to get people back to the office,” she said.
“With our shops, hotel guests and other visitors, we have a level of activity and traffic that employers want for their employees.”
Her description fit well with observations made Wednesday at the annual Downtown Kansas City Office Summit hosted by the Downtown Council at the Loews Convention Hotel.
“If people are making a decision on whether they’ll stay at home or go into the office, if at 4 o’clock they can go to a fun place to play games, get drinks, have food and meet with their team, they’re much more likely to come in,” said Brett Hautop, founding partner of California-based Workshape.
He was part of a panel discussion that included Christa Dubill, chief communications officer at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas City; Jon Greenawalt, senior vice president at 15Five, and Tracy Lewis, president and CEO of Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City.
Leonard Popplewell, a director at Cushman & Wakefield, said studies show that Gen Z and Millennial workers want to be downtown and in walkable, viable neighborhoods.
Statistics indicate the downtown Kansas City office market is a leader in the nation when it comes to employees returning to the office after the disruptions of the Covid pandemic.
Tommy Wilson, director of business recruitment and research for the Downtown Council, said Kansas City ranked sixth among 26 cities with 74 percent of its workforce back in the office.
“Our data is telling a story of recovery, returning employees, residential growth and a thriving visitor market,” he said.
The biggest new tenant at Crown Center is the Kansas City office of Kutak Rock. The law firm chose it for its new location, leasing 23,479 square-feet of space.
“We were drawn to Crown Center because it provides both a relaxed, park-like atmosphere and the convenience of having restaurants, shopping and hotels right across the street,” Larry Fields, Kutak managing partner, said in a statement.
“Other perks include ample parking and a great location near the Crossroads district and downtown.”
Another law firm currently at Crown Center, Baker Sterchi, expanded its space from 27,566 to 47,200 square feet after it merged with Foland Wickens in January.
“Crown Center offered us the unique opportunity to combine two offices on one floor as
opposed to other locations, which would have required us to be on multiple floors,” Scott Kreamer, managing partner of Baker Sterchi, said in a statement.
Paine declined to reveal the occupancy level at Crown Center, which has more than 1 million square feet of leasable space, but observed “it’s going the right direction with this kind of growth.”
The retail space at Crown Center is almost fully leased, which has helped with attracting office tenants, she said.
Other new tenants are: City Year, Inc., 4,100 square feet; a marketing firm, 5,072 square feet; Missouri State Public Defenders, 10,544 square feet; Rapid Logistics, 1,363 square feet; Welch & Associates, 1,991 square feet, and Pershing Perk Coffee Shops, 1,684 square feet.
In addition to Baker Sterchi expanding its lease, the Hardwick law firm renewed its lease for 6,673 square feet.