Downtown Pedestrians Rejoice, Boley Building Facade Work Nears Completion

The Boley Clothing Co. Building at 12th and Walnut opened in 1909 and was built using one of the first glass curtain-walls in the world.

By Kevin Collison

A building repair project that has closed sidewalks in the heart of downtown at 12th and Walnut for over 1 1/2 years is expected to be finally completed in late January.

The facade work on the historic Boley Clothing Co. Building, home of Andrews McMeel Universal publishing, is winding down.

The Walnut sidewalk which had been closed since July 2016 reopened in September, and the 12th Street sidewalk, closed since early October 2016, is expected to reopen next month.

“It’s all subject to weather at this point,” Les Hinman, Andrews McMeel chief financial officer, said in as statement, “but the current plans have all of the major work completed, and both mast climbers removed, by the end of January.”

Hinmon said what had begun as a minor repair project to the terra cotta facade at the top of the old building in May 2015 grew to a much more involved project when it was found some of the steel beams behind the facade had corroded.

“So what started out as a simple terra cotta repair project, expanded to include quite a bit of structural steel replacement,” he said.

Complicating matters, debris from the building tumbled onto 12th Street in early October 2016, forcing temporary closure of part of the street from Walnut to Main. The accident occurred late at night and no one was injured.

While the street was reopened quickly, the sidewalks have been blocked to pedestrians for over 1 1/2 years. The busy corner is close to two of downtown’s biggest office buildings, 1201 Walnut and Town Pavilion, and across Walnut from Oppenstein Park.

The Boley Building is considered a downtown landmark. It was designed by Louis Curtiss, described as one of Kansas City’s “most famous, innovative and idiosycratic architects” according to a guide published by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

It was completed in 1909 and was one of the first glass curtain-wall structures in the world.

Boley Clothing moved out in 1916 and for much of its history it was occupied by Katz Drug Co. The building had been vacant for several years before Andrews McMeel renovated it and moved its offices there in 2008.

The firm currently employs 195 people there and Hinmon said business has been very good.

“The company will have both revenues and profit improvement in 2017, coming off a healthy 2016,” he said.