The Environmental Protection Agencies’ Regional Headquarter Offices in downtown Kansas City, Kansas will officially be relocating to a new location this fall. Their new home? The former Applebee’s headquarters in Lenexa, Kansas.
This news came as quite a shock to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and KCK. The giant glass-arched building with an atrium inside was custom-built for the EPA and its nearly 600 employees only 12 years ago. A lawsuit against the federal government was dismissed, making the move concrete and leaving the building’s owners, Urban America, in search of new tenants.
Area residents and business owners were upset about the news, about how the loss of EPA workers would affect the area economically.
“My business will be hurt definitely,” said Ellen Hume, owner of Jay WaLe’s Bakery Bistro, which is located around the corner from the EPA. “We just have to wait and see what comes in there, hopefully it will be something that benefits all the small businesses in the area.”
Raymond Ybarra owner of Ray’s Downtown Styling, a barber shop down the street from the EPA, says he hopes a new business or office will occupy the building quickly.
“If they don’t, it’s going to be an empty shell. Like all around here in this area here. We’ve got a lot of empty shells in here,” Ybarra said.
The Wyandotte Economic Development Council (WYEDC) and Urban America the landlord for the building say they are in the early process of finding new tenants. They will be working with the CB Richard Ellis, (CBRE,) a brokerage company, to identify new tenants.
“It is a very unique tenant that we want to have in that location. It’s a very iconic building and prime location within the community and the region.” Say Greg Kindle, President of the WYEDC. He says it’s a difficult building to divide up into multiple spaces, so the ideal tenant will be a single entity that has 500 plus employees. At minimum it will take 6 months to identify a new tenant, but most likely it will take longer.
Kindle hopes that the future tenants will be more involved in the downtown community, as in move in, and hire within the surrounding area.
“I would not necessarily say that the EPA in that sense met that kind of criteria…” Says Kindle, “I think whomever we bring in to fill that space I’d like to see them be more fully engaged into the community itself.”