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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the last remaining visible impacts of the COVID pandemic is in Kansas City’s downtown office space market.

More companies are looking to bring their offices downtown while office space vacancy has continued to increase since the pandemic started.

Bringing workers back into the office and hiring new employees has kicked off an amenity battle to get the coolest features in or near to new spaces like Grand Place, which is going into the building the Kansas City Star used for more than a century in Crossroads.

“What we’re finding right now is companies with strong leadership and strong culture want a really cool environment to bring their people together and their people are really demanding it as well,” said 3D Development Partner Erik Wullschleger, who is developing the historic building.

It’s why he’s using the hundreds of square feet inside the former office space and printing facilities to create new, modern office space but also a restaurant, rooftop area with views of downtown, and a public marketplace to attract visitors at all times.

“For us, that’s a building in a 20,000 square foot market that will not only be fantastic to go grab lunch on a Tuesday but a place that you’re going to bring your friends and families to on a Saturday,” Wullschleger said.

It’s the kind of amenity list that got the healthcare company Next Move, Inc. excited about committing to 24,000 square feet in Grand Place, more than doubling their current office footprint which they’re quickly outgrowing.

“As we thought about the needs for our offices, we were really looking for a space that our people wanted to come to at the end of the day,” said Next Move, Inc. COO Clint Clevenger.

It’s why even though market studies show office space vacancy has continued to rise over the last two years, developers are still building more or spending plenty of money to renovate old space and make it fresh again.

Businesses like Next Move, Inc. say cool features, amenities, and short walks to other cool activities are what their current workers want and it’s a helpful way to attract new talent.

“We looked outside the downtown Kansas City area and it took about five minutes before we realized this is where we wanted to be,” Clevenger said.

Construction on Grand Place is expected to start soon with the first tenants moving in during the middle of 2023. It gives them plenty of time to finish the rest of the build out for other downtown events like the World Cup in 2026 and a potential downtown ballpark, after the Royals announced they are looking at new locations for a baseball district and stadium.

Downtown business and city leaders are gathering Wednesday for the Downtown KC Office Summit where the theme is “Place Matters.” FOX4 will be there and will have a follow up story on the ideas discussed there Wednesday evening.

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