By Kevin Collison
AT&T is shutting down operations at its 13-story downtown headquarters at 500 E. Eighth St., and has an agreement to sell it to a new owner who plans to redevelop the property.
Maxus Properties of North Kansas City anticipates closing its purchase next month on the 362,000 square-foot building that opened in 1973 and undertake a major renovation of the property, the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority board was told Thursday.
Chris Kline, a Husch Blackwell attorney representing Maxus, said no definite redevelopment plan has been prepared for the building, saying it could be reused as an office building or possibly converted to residential.
Maxus officials released a statement Tuesday (Jan. 22) about their interest in the building.
“The AT&T building is a special site with great potential,” David Johnson, Maxus chairman and CEO, said, “and we are grateful to have the opportunity to oversee a redevelopment of this scale in a budding downtown market.
“However, we take ownership recognizing many complexities and challenges associated with redevelopment – including extensive asbestos remediation and building modernization – that may make the redevelopment economically impossible.
We welcome the challenge and are ready to get to work.”
The occupancy of the building has been declining as AT&T has relocated its workers to a building it owns at 2121 E. 63rd St. in Kansas City.
An AT&T spokesman confirmed the pending sale.
“To make the best use of our company’s real estate portfolio and reduce operating expenses, AT&T has agreed to sell our building at 500 E. Eighth St.,” said Chris Lester.
“Our company’s presence in Kansas City, Missouri, will remain strong. We plan to relocate employees currently located at 500 E. Eighth Street to 2121 E. 63rd St.”
Lester said information was unavailable about how many AT&T employees worked at 500 E. Eighth at its peak and how many remain currently.
The decision by AT&T to completely exit the building comes at a time when the city and the Downtown Council are making a renewed effort to attract more private jobs downtown.
The Maxus Properties website indicates the company is primarily involved with apartment projects around the nation. Its sole downtown Kansas City property is the Cold Storage Lofts in the River Market at 500 E. Third St.
Kline said the AT&T building will require extensive environmental cleanup because of asbestos, and other work.
The PIEA board agreed to allow the developer to conduct a blight study and prepare a redevelopment plan in anticipation of applying for tax incentives to help finance the project.
The 1970s office building is located in a federal opportunity zone, a designation that would make companies locating there eligible for substantial federal tax incentives.
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