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Waddell & Reed Chooses 14th and Baltimore for $140M HQ Project

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(Updated Dec. 10: A preliminary development review plan filed last Friday with the City Planning Department by Burns & McDonnell indicates the proposed Waddell & Reed headquarters building would be 18 stories tall.

The plan states the building would consist of eight stories of office on top of a 10-story, 951-space garage. The garage also would have 28 bicycle parking spaces. Entrances to the garage would be off Baltimore, Wyandotte and 14th Street.

The filing on the Planning Department “Compass” site, which is stamped “Confidential” includes a basic schematic drawing of the project, but no architectural renderings.

The proposed redevelopment plan is scheduled to be considered by the City Council Thursday)

By Kevin Collison

Waddell & Reed has chosen 14th and Baltimore as the site for its $140 million downtown headquarters pending completion of final negotiations on a 15-year lease, a city official confirmed Wednesday.

The developer of the 250,000 square-foot office project will be a local group comprised of Burns & McDonnell and Financial Holding Corp., a business controlled by the Merriman family who’s top executive is Michael A. Merriman.

“You’ll be look at local investment, and local design and construction activities too,” said David Frantze, the attorney representing the developer.

In 2017, Burns & McDonnell and Americo Life, a subsidiary of Financial Holding Corp., were the “KCI Hometown Team” that was turned down for the airport project in favor of a team led by Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate of Bethesda, Maryland.

The 14th and Baltimore site was once pitched by DST Realty as a potential location for the convention hotel. The property is now controlled by the Merriman family.

There’s also a family connection to the proposed deal. Joe Jack Merriman, Michael’s father, was president of Waddell & Reed in the late 1960s.

CityScene KC previously reported the two finalists for the project were the location at 14th and Baltimore and property controlled by Copaken Brooks at 13th and Grand.

Michael A. Merriman was among those attending the groundbreaking for the new Downtown YMCA last year.

The development site at the southwest corner of 14th and Baltimore is currently occupied by what was known as the IBM Building at 1400 Baltimore and an adjoining garage at 117 W. 14th St.

The IBM Building, completed in 1957, and garage have been vacant for many years. The development site also is located adjacent to the Power & Light District.

The Kansas City Council Neighborhood Planning and Development Committee endorsed an incentive package for the project, which is expected to bring 1,000 new jobs to downtown, at its meeting Wednesday and the full Council is expected to consider the plan next week.

Drew Solomon, senior vice president at the KC Economic Development Corp., told the committee that Waddell & Reed were negotiating a lease agreement for the 14th and Baltimore site.

In October, the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Board approved an incentive package for what was then identified only as “Project Decoy.”

The incentive package includes a 15-year, 75 percent property tax abatement, a sales tax exemption on construction materials and a 15-year, 50 percent EATS reimbursement from the city. EATS taxes include earnings taxes, sales taxes and utility taxes.

The state also is providing a $62 million job incentive package to Waddell & Reed, which is currently located in Overland Park.

While Missouri and Kansas have agreed to discontinue the costly poaching of businesses in the metro, declaring a Border War truce last summer, the Waddell & Reed deal already was in the works.

At the EEZ board meeting in October, Frantze said the office building would be built on top of a 1,000 space garage. The total structure, including the garage, would be up to 15 stories and be completed in early 2022.

A design for the Waddell & Reed project has not been finalized.

The Kansas City Economic Development Corp. said the firm will initially bring 919 jobs with an average wage of $166,337. The firm also plans to hire another 120 full-time employees over the next six years with a total net new payroll of $172.8 million.

A spokesperson for Waddell & Reed declined to comment directly, but did release a statement following the Council committee action.

“We remain excited about the possibility of bringing our workforce of approximately 1,000 employees to a distinctive new building inside an enhanced enterprise zone in downtown Kansas City,” Roger Hoadley said in a statement.

“We’re eager to share more details once we have a fully executed and signed lease agreement.”

(Editor’s note: Beginning Dec. 2, CityScene KC has become a paid subscription publication)

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