The historic Kansas City Power & Light skyscraper, which is scheduled to be renovated soon into an apartment tower, is losing its last tenant.
BNIM, the Kansas City-based architecture and planning firm, on Tuesday announced it is leaving its home for the past 14 years for another historic and distinctive building — the TWA Building in the Crossroads district.
The company said it has signed a two-year lease with Barkley Inc. to take the entire third floor of the downtown building at 1735 Baltimore Ave. BNIM’s 78 local employees are scheduled to start work in the 26,000-square-foot space next Monday.
Barkley, the Kansas City-based marketing and advertising firm, occupies most of the 130,000-square-foot building and is subleasing the space to BNIM. Another tenant is MindMixer, a technology company that recently moved to Kansas City from Omaha. The building’s owner is developer Brad Nicholson.
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The red and white TWA Building, which was built in 1956, was the corporate headquarters of Trans World Airlines until 1964. As part of a renovation several years ago, a 40-foot replica of the “TWA Moonliner” rocketship was placed atop the three-story building. The mock spaceship originally adorned the corner until 1962, when the airline ended its sponsorship of the Disneyland attraction.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. In 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation selected the building for its National Preservation Honor Award.
BNIM said the TWA Building would house its architecture, planning and interiors studios, along with accounting, administrative and marketing staff.
The firm said its new home could accommodate future expansion. BNIM said its staffing has grown by about 15 percent in the last year, and it is projecing a 29 percent increase in revenue in 2014. Established in 1970, BNIM has 112 employees altogether, with additional offices in Des Moines, Houston, San Diego and Los Angeles.
The company said it also sought a workplace that would serve as a laboratory for its work in sustainable, green architecture. “It’s something we do for our clients, and we’ve now been able to use the best of our knowledge to apply these principles to shape our own work environment,” said Steve McDowell, BNIM’s chief executive and director of design. The company was represented by CBRE in its site search.
Greg Trees, Barkley’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that BNIM’s move to the Crossroads district “will energize the creative culture that defines the area.” In recent years, the area between the downtown core and Crown Center has become home to a growing number of high-tech startups, art galleries, restaurants and other small businesses.
Meanwhile, the conversion of the 36-story Power & Light building into an apartment tower is scheduled to begin in October. The renovation project, led by NorthPoint Development of Riverside, calls for 217 apartments, with the first units available by the end of 2015. A building would be constructed on adjacent property for a parking garage, retail space and 58 more apartments.