Broken water pipe closes 1201 Walnut office tower in downtown KC

01/08/2014 9:53 PM

01/08/2014 9:53 PM

One of downtown Kansas City’s biggest office towers, 1201 Walnut, was closed early Wednesday and could remain shut down for the rest of the week because of a broken fire sprinkler pipe that flooded the basement.

More than 1,000 employees who work at the 30-story office tower at 12th and Walnut streets were affected by the shutdown. Officials at Copaken Brooks, the building landlord, said the severe cold weather caused a fire sprinkler to break on the first floor about 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The office tower, which opened in 1991, is one of downtown Kansas City’s biggest and busiest, its major tenant being the Stinson Leonard Street law firm, formerly Stinson Morrison. Attorneys received an email around 1 a.m. Wednesday informing them about the closure.

Troy Marquis, chief executive of Copaken Brooks, said the building will be closed through Thursday and possibly the rest of the week. No damage estimate was available, but the property is insured.

Marquis said at least two pipes had been frozen by the recent cold snap in Kansas City. The temperature was below zero overnight Sunday and Monday.

A tanker truck from Express Septic and Grease Trap Cleaning, and two trucks from BluSky Restoration, which specializes in cleaning and deodorization, were parked Wednesday morning on Walnut Street next to the office tower.

Marquis said the building is 85 percent occupied. Stinson, one of the city’s largest law firms, consolidated its offices there in 2003. Telephone calls to Stinson attorneys were being transferred to the firm’s St. Louis office.

The law firm’s co-managing partner, Mark Hinderks, said all of Stinson’s operating systems were in good shape except for some AT&T telephone equipment in the basement.

The firm’s computer servers are housed on the sixth floor, and there are backup systems for everything the firm needed to continue operating, including the ability for all attorneys and staff members to work from home, he said.

“If there’s a silver lining, it’s that we’ve had these emergency and contingency plans for years but had never been tested at this magnitude,” Hinderks said. “Everything worked. I had access to everything I needed, and I’ve heard no complaints from anyone.”

Hinderks said a primary concern of the law firm, which uses the 21st through 29th floors of the building, is that the elevators are in perfect working condition by the time they return to the offices.

Scott Brouillette, principal at BKD Technologies, said about 250 BKD workers were unable to work in their offices on floors 15 through 17.

“None of our things were affected by the water, and we can work remotely,” Brouillette said. “The biggest problem is that we can’t get access to our files, probably not until next week. But we are getting in to get our laptops if we’re escorted by the tech people.”

Other tenants include Data Systems International, Gallagher Metzler Insurance, the law firm of Rouse Hendricks German May, and Grant Thornton. No information was immediately available about how their operations were affected.

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