As part of its $500 million “live-work-play” redevelopment of Kansas City’s West Bottoms, SomeraRoad Inc. aims to differentiate new office space from other local offerings.
The New York developer plans 110,000 square feet of creative offices in the first phase of its neighborhood-wide project, which spans almost 22 acres it owns or controls in the central West Bottoms. The offices will make up the lion’s share of the mixed-use space planned within two of SomeraRoad’s four initial projects.
Those projects involve historic conversions of the Perfection Stove Co building. at 1200 Union Ave., with 48,330 square feet, and Laramie Tires (a.k.a. Crooks Terminal Warehouse Co.) building at 1201 Union Ave., with 103,426 square feet. The balance of the buildings is earmarked for new retail space. The City Plan Commission between July and August approved project plans for the conversions, plus SomeraRoad’s two other first-phase projects.
SomeraRoad’s own West Bottoms office is a blueprint for the type of creative workspace it now looks to build for other users, founder and managing partner Ian Ross said. The developer last year opened a Kansas City office in a historic former fire station at 1215 Union Ave. The 3,352-square-foot space includes multiple “lounge-like” areas with sofas and loveseats, in lieu of a more traditional conference room, plus a bar and coffee area, and ground-floor collaboration spaces with a central screen and design board.
“If you remember the movie ‘Office Space,’ that’s like office space of yesteryear and boutique, creative office today is created in a special place that, simply put, is better than your home,” Ross said. “Today, with technology and hybrid work lifestyles where they are, if you want to bring people to an office, you need to create a place that’s better than working from your kitchen table on your laptop. So you have to create a place that’s special and furthermore … that cultivates idea-sharing and innovation and helps stir the creative juices to allow people to work more efficiently alone and with their peers.”
In the West Bottoms, Ross said SomeraRoad will offer flexible office spaces between 5,000 and 75,000 square feet, taking advantage of the area’s historic buildings’ high ceilings and large glass windows. The offices also will include amenities, with fitness and team-building spaces, outdoor patios and additive food and beverage retail components.
“You don’t want to create commoditized boring product that everyone else can offer,” Ross said. “What we can offer in the West Bottoms is a live-work-play-stay multidimensional mixed-use neighborhood that’s got all of this stuff at your fingertips that’s also got history, authenticity, this amazing story as the birthplace of Kansas City.”