Development

Ghost of Ernest Hemingway is summoned in Crossroads building renovation

Cindy Augustine, Matt Wegerer and Austin Walsh, all Crossroads business owners, have teamed up to buy a historic property at 103 W. 19th St. They are calling it the Hemingway Building.
Cindy Augustine, Matt Wegerer and Austin Walsh, all Crossroads business owners, have teamed up to buy a historic property at 103 W. 19th St. They are calling it the Hemingway Building.

Three creative business owners have joined forces to buy and renovate a distinctive yellow, triangular-shaped building in the West Crossroads Arts District that has been vacant for years.

Cindy Augustine, Matt Wegerer and Austin Walsh — friends and Crossroads business neighbors for years — aim to restore life to the former Kansas City Police Station No. 4 at 103 W. 19th St.

“It’d been on the market a long time, and when the price was finally right, we bought it from the bank,” said Augustine, owner of Kazoo Media. “We thought it was a unique space with historic significance.”

The two-story building’s history dates to 1902, when it housed an elevator company. But its public profile grew in 1916 when it became Kansas City Police Station No. 4. That in itself didn’t generate fame, but history notes that a young cub reporter at The Kansas City Star regularly visited the station to check police reports as part of his job.

The new buyers are calling it the Hemingway Building in honor of Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps.

The 14,000-square-foot building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We’re looking to bring vibrancy back to the area,” Augustine said, “maybe with a restaurant on the ground floor, but we still have a lot of planning to do.”

The three buyers are working with Kem Studio, the architect, and Pearce Construction, the general contractor, on the project. Some demolition work is needed before upgrades can begin on the windows and other parts of the building needing attention after a six-year vacancy.

Augustine said the first floor likely will offer about 3,000 square feet for a restaurant, and she is ready to field inquiries from prospective tenants.

A previous renovation project in 2004 by developer Kerry Duffin was unsuccessful. Duffin had intended to put a Latino-theme restaurant on the first floor and event spaces on the second floor. Duffin had repainted the building in yellow with red accents.

Walsh, owner of Austin Walsh Studio, intends to use the top floor for his business, moving from his current location at 208 W. 19th St.

Wegerer, owner of Whiskey Design, will continue to share an office location with Kazoo Media at 821 W. 17th St.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford

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