More than a century separates the designs behind the new and old elements of Vince Bryant’s $95 million Crossroads Arts District project. Each plays with light, but in contrasting ways.
New construction at Grand Place will feature a three-story food hall encased in glass and twin market pavilions draped in broad metal ribbons.
Bryant also is restoring the historic former home of The Kansas City Star designed by Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt. Tall windows line nearly every wall of the two brick behemoths at 18th Street and Grand Boulevard. Hunt opened rooftops with massive skylights — including one over the second-floor newsroom, which was in a three-story building.
“They really designed this, Jarvis Hunt did, to try and get natural light in everywhere he could,” Bryant said during an exclusive tour with The Star.
Bryant’s development, which he hopes to open in 2020, promises to bring offices, groceries, a data center, public assembly area, rooftop patio, penthouse offices and more than 500 underground parking spaces to the neighborhood. One of its first tenants could be a bar featuring volleyball, ping-pong and other games.
“We believe there needs to be a grocery store in the Crossroads,” Bryant said.
A virtual tour shows Bryant’s Grand Market pavilions on the Grand Boulevard side of the property. A central courtyard divides the pavilions and extends to the main entry of the food hall.
“Inside are food vendors, with skylights and views up to see the historic Kansas City Star building,” said Rick Schladweiler, design director for Hollis + Miller Architects, which is working with Bryant.
The glass pavilion walls can be opened and several skylights pierce the roof. Over them, striking perforated steel ribbons provide shade.
Retractable canvas awnings cover the courtyard between the pavilions, allowing it to be enclosed and heated in winter for all-year use, Bryant said.
The food hall opens to a 25-foot height with two mezzanines — one with offices and one for dining — on opposite sides of the spacious room. The third floor contains more offices.
Vendors will offer prepared meals and kits to prepare meals at home. There will be space dedicated to what Bryant called a “boutique grocery,” such as a staffed meat counter along with produce, dairy and packaged goods such as toiletries.
The Star’s former home came to life when electricity was a new and unreliable resource. But much of Hunt’s work with light had been obscured or even obliterated through decades of changes.
The Star sold the property in 2017 and moved to its nearby Press Pavilion on McGee Street this summer.
From 1910 drawings, Bryant learned that a long-forgotten atrium skylight had once capped the short brick alleyway structure connecting the west and east buildings.
Another surprise came when Bryant found that old newsroom skylight.
The skylight originally above the second-floor newsroom had been moved to the roof line and the third floor filled in beneath it. Bryant plans to keep the skylight where he found it, but he likely will have to replace the glass.
He also will have to rebuild the large skylight that originally capped the eastern building where The Star’s presses had operated. On sunny days, the new skylight will pour light into the large space below.
“We’re actually going to have to put fritting in the glass just so it’s not too intense,” Bryant said.
The rooftop of each historic building also has a window-lined room that once served as the base for a radio tower, used when The Star owned WDAF. Bryant plans to turn the rooms into penthouses for the buildings’ third-floor offices, with spiral staircases to a 360-degree view of the city.
“They’ll have their own private 1,200-square-foot rooftop patios, and that will look down on our common 5,000-square-foot rooftop patio,” he said.
To make it all work, Bryant’s group is seeking $39.5 million in tax incentives based partly on the project’s jobs and economic impact.
Bryant said the fully leased properties would generate “a couple hundred thousand” dollars in property taxes each year. That’s with tax abatement reducing the annual tax by 75 percent during the first 15 years and by 50 percent in the subsequent five years.
“It’s a big project, so that’s a big number,” Bryant said.