Waddell & Reed Reveals Headquarters Design, Signs Lease

The 18-story Waddell & Reed headquarters is now under construction at the southwest corner of 14th and Baltimore. (Rendering by Burns & McDonnell)

By Kevin Collison

Waddell & Reed has signed a lease for its new, 1,000-employee downtown headquarters and released a design that depicts an 18-story glass tower resembling a cubist stack of multiple, angled boxes.

The building, designed by Burns & McDonnell, is planned for the southwest corner of 14th and Baltimore and across the South Loop freeway from the soon-to-open Loews Convention Center Hotel.

The design plan, which was submitted to the City Planning Department Friday, calls for 260,000 square-feet of office space above a 10-level, 1,000-space garage.

Construction is expected to begin within the next couple months, with completion during the first half of 2022.

“This site offers the opportunity to showcase downtown Kansas City to the thousands of visitors to our company, including management teams from major corporations across the country,” Philip J. Sanders, CEO of Waddell & Reed Financial, said in a statement.

“Our foremost goal is a location that allows us to build an environment that accommodates the workforce of tomorrow and enables us to attract and retain top talent to accelerate our growth strategy.”

The $148 million headquarters is the first high-rise office building to go up downtown since H&R Block completed its office tower in 2007. Like Block, the new Waddell & Reed building is located near the Power & Light District.

A view of the planned Waddell & Reed headquarters looking west. (Image by Burns & McDonnell)

Last month, the Kansas City Council approved a redevelopment plan for the project that included a 15-year property tax abatement and other incentives to accompany a $62 million job incentive package from the state of Missouri.

The company is currently located in Overland Park.

“We were founded in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1937, and while this allows us to return to our roots, we look forward to continuing to be a strong, fully engaged partner to both downtown and the broader Kansas City Community,” Sanders said in his statement.

Waddell & Reed also released a video announcing the move to its employees Friday that provides more detail about building design and location.

The 15-year lease is between Waddell & Reed and a development team comprised of Burns & McDonnell and Financial Holding Corp., an entity controlled by Michael Merriman, who’s father, Joe Jack Merriman, was president of Waddell & Reed in the late 1960s.

Burns & McDonnell will build the new headquarters as well as design its exterior. HOK will design the interior space, according to a release. The project is expected to be designed to LEED environmental efficiency standards.

The project will feature a rooftop terrace with a cafe and conference center. (Image by Burns & McDonnell)

The building will include a rooftop terrace level that will include a cafe, outdoor terraces and a multi-purpose training and conference center. The design also includes 150 collaborative spaces, including outdoor balconies on every floor.

Employee parking will be free and the garage includes bicycle parking and electric car charging stations. After business hours and weekends, the garage will be available for paid public parking.

In the release announcing the lease signing, Sanders said his firm has made significant progress improving its operational business model over the past two years.

“This move will serve as a key enabler of this strategy and better position our organization for growth opportunities to achieve that long-term vision and strategy,” Sanders said in his statement.

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    • Agreed. The design actually draws a bit outside the lines, at least relative to the humdrum, generic design of the Loew’s Hotel across the highway.

      As for the 40+ story building need: YES. I would be ecstatic to see a legitimate (i.e. viewing angle-independent) addition to the skyline. This is well beyond the scope of this article, but it’s frustrating that a new tower like this requires 10 (!) stories of parking garage. At some point, one would think the vast majority of the public would realize, “oh hey, maybe we need some real public transportation like other cities?”; e.g. expansive extension of the streetcar, and light rail to the outlying metro suburbs. I’m still holding out hope that we’ll get there, lest we become the city of fountains and parking garages.

  1. Kevin, are those blank blocks between the windows translucent or tinted windows or actually walled in? Some renderings make it look translucent, others look like wall blocks. Can you check with developer what they are doing there? Would be odd if not able to view outside from within building.

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