By Kevin Collison
The Kansas City Star is leasing 8,500 square-feet for its new offices in the 2405 Grand building at Crown Center, a steep decline from its peak when the paper owned 659,000 square feet of downtown real estate.
The relocation to about a half floor in an upper level of the office tower follows more than 15 years of relentless downsizing at The Star, which has been battered by the same financial head winds afflicting many American metropolitan newspapers.
At one point, more than 1,700 people worked at The Star’s historic, 225,000 square-foot headquarters at 1729 Grand that opened in 1911, and its 434,000 square-foot Press Pavilion that opened across McGee Street in 2006.
The newspaper also leased space at several other nearby buildings.
Mike Fannin, president and editor of The Star, declined to comment to CityScene KC, but in a statement published in The Star, he said employees are looking forward to the new space at Crown Center.
“We’re pleased to establish new headquarters in a terrific, central location in the city,” Fannin said. “Our journalists will continue to work from — and cover — communities across the metro area, as they have done so well throughout two long years of the pandemic.
“We look forward to working together again in-person, and this will be a great new place to call home.”
The 15-story 2405 Grand building was completed in 1987 and totals 245,000 square feet of leasable office space.
Nick Suarez, senior managing director at Newmark Zimmer, handled the lease negotiations for Crown Center with The Star.
Suarez said Crown Center has a “good buzz” these days and is attracting new tenants because of its wide variety of amenities.
“It’s very walkable with dozens of restaurants and shops,” he said. “A lot of tenants want to be in buildings with good amenities and Crown Center offers that.”
The new address comes after several years of disruption at The Star, which was founded in 1880 by William Rockhill Nelson,
In 2017, in an effort to cut costs, The Star’s owner, McClatchy, sold its original building to developer Vincent Bryant. He is renovating the structure to become a mixed-use development called Grand Place that includes offices and a food court.
The remaining employees were consolidated into space at the Press Pavilion in 2018. That same year, McClatchy sold the Press Pavilion in a leaseback deal to Ambassador Hospitality, an entity controlled by Rosana Privatera Biondo of Mark One Electric.
In 2020, McClatchy declared bankruptcy and was bought by Chatham Asset Management, a hedge fund. Shortly after, The Star announced it was ending its lease with Ambassador Hospitality, closing the presses and shifting newspaper production to Des Moines.
The remaining staff, including the newsroom, vacated the Press Pavilion in late 2021 and since then has been working remotely. Ambassador Hospitality has been marketing the massive production building for lease.
Terms of the The Star lease at Crown Center were not released.
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