Development

Kansas City ad agency VML to expand and could add up to 376 jobs at downtown airport

VML, the digital advertising company behind the Smart Baseball used before the Royals’ home opener this spring, plans to expand its office space at Wheeler Downtown Airport.
VML, the digital advertising company behind the Smart Baseball used before the Royals’ home opener this spring, plans to expand its office space at Wheeler Downtown Airport. tljungblad@kcstar.com

It’s not lonely at the top for VML, Kansas City’s fast-growing advertising agency that plans to make additional room for more new employees in its offices at Wheeler Downtown Airport.

VML and the Kansas City Aviation Department have reached an agreement for the advertising agency to extend its lease at the downtown airport for another 11 years. VML has been a tenant there since 1995.

In doing so, VML would continue to occupy the 67,235 square feet where it currently carries out much of its nationally recognized digital advertising work. It would also lease an additional 30,444 square feet at the airport. That would bring VML’s occupancy at the downtown airport up to 97,679 square feet.

VML has other offices in Kansas City, including at 2020 Baltimore in the Freight House District. Internationally, VML has offices on every continent except Antarctica.

Joe McBride, spokesman for the Kansas City Aviation Department, said in an email that VML’s expansion at the airport would take space currently occupied by airport operations. A smaller building will be built for those aviation employees, McBride said.

VML’s expansion would make room for the firm to add as many as 376 additional employees to the 510 who work there today, according to city documents.

VML officials declined to comment on specifics of the company’s expansion, pending Kansas City Council approval of the new lease.

The lease was scheduled to go before the Kansas City Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on Thursday morning, but it was pulled off the agenda on Monday and is expected to be heard later this month.

VML’s lease agreement with the Aviation Department calls for the agency to pay $16 a square foot initially, growing to $18.02 a square foot by the end of the 11-year extension.

In all, the city expects to collect $17.3 million in rent from VML over the term of the lease. VML’s leasing agent CBRE will receive a $700,000 commission from Kansas City. The average asking rent rate for downtown office buildings is $18.83 per square foot, according to real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

The lease includes an option for a 10-year extension.

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt

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