Venerable structure in Crossroads District is getting new tenants

Two Kansas City companies will be moving a few blocks this summer into a nearly 100-year-old building being renovated at 18th and Main streets in the Crossroads District.

Centric Projects, a commercial general construction firm, and HighTower Group, a commercial furnishing company, will move in August to the former Western Blue building at 1814 Main St.

The 10,000-square-foot building is undergoing a $1.5 million exterior and interior renovation. The building has been vacant for several years.

Centric, now two blocks away at 2024 Main St., will lease about 60 percent of the space from the building’s owner. It is also the general contractor on the renovation project. HighTower, at 125 Southwest Blvd., will take the remaining 40 percent.

Richard Wetzel, one of Centric’s three founding partners, said the 3-year-old company is nearly doubling its space to accommodate future growth. Centric has about 34 employees and expects to double its workforce over the next five years.

“The work is out there,” Wetzel said.

The construction services company generated $32.5 million in revenue last year, up from about $1.3 million in 2010. Its project list includes work on the Corinth and Prairie Village shopping centers, the Alamo Drafthouse, the Roasterie and the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired.

Centric will receive about $100,000 in tax credits from the state of Missouri over the next five years for its investment in new jobs, vehicles and equipment, and the building.

“We’re thrilled to be staying in the Crossroads, a neighborhood which has nurtured our growth,” Wetzel said. “We did not look at any other locales.”

HighTower, which is headquartered here, was founded in 2003 and has several sales offices around the country, including a distribution center in High Point, N.C.

The company works mainly on commercial furniture projects with interior architects and designers, and its products include cafe chairs, lobby sofas, tables and other furnishings for commercial space.

The company expects to move about a dozen employees into the new office and showroom space, said Kelsey Blades, a HighTower account executive.

The exterior renovation on the Main Street building is being handled by El Dorado Inc., and 360 Architecture has the interior design.