By Kevin Collison
More than a century of newspaper history ends today when The Kansas City Star staff moves from its historic quarters at 1729 Grand into new space in the Press Pavilion across McGee Street.
The Star’s local management, as has been the case since the real estate transaction was first publicized in March 2017, did not respond to requests for comment.
But newsroom employees were on social media throughout Thursday describing the pending move.
“Tomorrow’s our last day at Kansas City Star historic 1729 Grand newsroom,” one reporter posted. “We’re signing the pillar before we shut off the light’s tomorrow evening.
“Starting Monday, we’ll be across the street in our new glass building.”
The sale of the historic downtown building was completed last August to an entity called 1729 Grand Boulevard LLC controlled by Kansas City developer Vince Bryant.
Jackson County records indicate the sales price was $12 million.
The McClatchy newspaper chain, the owner of The Star, originally had intended to sell both the historic building and the massive printing plant which cost $200 million to build and equip in 2006.
Last summer, the company announced it had reached a $42 million deal for both properties.
But in October, McClatchy said it had terminated its sales-leaseback agreement for the 434,000 square-foot Press Pavilion with an entity called R2 Capital LLC.
The firm decided instead to consolidate the remaining newspaper employees in the Pavilion at 1601 McGee St.
At one time, more than 1,700 people worked at 1729 Grand, but the rapidly declining fortunes of the newspaper industry over the past decade has prompted substantial layoffs as revenues have continued to drop.
Approximately 200 Star employees remained in the old building last fall including newsroom, advertising, human resources and technology staff, according to a statement at the time from McClatchy.
Bryant is pursuing redevelopment plans for reusing the old building that include potential office space and data center space.
A sign in front of the building said its available for 3,000- to 65,000 square feet of office; a 5,000 square-foot rooftop patio; data center; 30,000 square feet of marketplace place “and more.”
Renovation work has been underway in the east half of the historic building, which was vacated last year, for many months.
“We have very high tenant interest with large space needs,” Bryant said. “We have submitted our incentive plan to the City and are working through that process.”
The Kansas City Star building opened in 1911 and was designed by Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt in the Italianate Renaissance style.
Hunt was commissioned by The Star’s founder, William Rockhill Nelson and was told to base its design on the McLean Residence in Washington D.C., according to an architectural guide published by the Kansas City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
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Great column, Kevin!
Nice job Kevin. I just cannot wrap my mind around what was and what is now. I am not waxing nostalgic so much as I mourn what passes for a newspaper these days.
Good piece of work, Kevin. If there is any bright spot to be found in this unhappy development it would be this: the Star staffers are still in a quality building owned by the newspaper company. Consider other papers, such as the LA Times or the Missourian, who packed off to suburbs or strip malls.
I agree OJ, and the vibe Friday evening as people toasted farewell to the old newsroom and hello to the new was very positive. I wish them all the best, we need them to be successful.
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