Sale Of KC Star Building Set To Close

Aug 30, 2017

The sale of The Kansas City Star building is expected to be completed Thursday, although the new owner has no immediate plans to redevelop the historic property at 1729 Grand Blvd.

“I’ve worked a little over a year on the transaction so I’m excited to complete the acquisition,” says Vince Bryant of 3-D Development.

“The good news is, it’s a big facility. We’re exploring possibilities as low volume as storage or a data center. On the big side would be higher end office.”

When the purchase agreement was announced in July by McClatchy Co., the owner of The Star, Bryant laid out a redevelopment concept that called for creating 180,000 square feet of premium office space and devoting up to 100,000 square feet for data centers.

That concept included a building and a 600-space garage immediately north of the old building.

Bryant says that ambitious redevelopment plan option remains in the mix of possibilities.

The Star sale was announced to the newspaper’s staff in the newsroom Wednesday by publisher Tony Berg, according to a report in The Star.

Berg and other Star officials did not return calls seeking comment.

According to a report in The Star, only 200 employees remain in the historic building, down from 1,700 to 1,800 at its peak about a decade ago. The Star, like many other newspapers, has experienced a steep decline in revenues over that period.

While The Star has made gains on its digital side, its Sunday newspaper circulation has fallen 36 percent to 266,264 since 2006, and its daily circulation has dropped 33 percent to 169,936.

The Star plans to consolidate all of its employees in its massive green glass and copper Press Pavilion building at 1601 McGee St., across the street from the old building, within a year.

Berg told Star reporters that a new “state-of-the-art” newsroom would be built within the Press Pavilion, where the newspaper is printed.

“We’ve been in this building more than 100 years, and a lot of great memories and great journalism have been created here,” Berg told the gathering, according to The Star.

“But it’s not the building, it’s the people that make The Star what it is.”

McClatchy announced in July that both the Press Pavilion and the historic Star building were sold for a combined $42 million. The Press Pavilion was purchased by an entity called R2 Capital LLC, which will lease the property back to McClatchy.

The breakdown of the price for the properties was not revealed by McClatchy, and Bryant declined to say what he paid for the old Star building. Earlier he said it was the “smaller part of the deal.”

The Star building, which opened in 1911, is actually two buildings, an east half where production facilities were once located, and the west half where the newsroom and business operations were housed.

Bryant plans to immediately begin interior demolition work on the east side.

“Our plan is to clear it out and take it back to its original state and get it ready for future development,” he says.

“The Star will be in the west building for a year. We may lease it for a while as Class B office space.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Bryant plans to begin demolition of the east side of the building. That has been corrected to read he plans to begin interior demolition work on the east side. 

Kevin Collison, a freelance contributor to KCUR 89.3, writes about downtown Kansas City for his website CityScene KC.