A New York-based shared workspace developer has leased four floors in the 10-story Crossroads Arts District building, the first speculative office project in urban Kansas City since 1201 Walnut opened in 1991.
WeWork, which operates shared workspace for small business and entrepreneurs throughout the United States and in five continents, announced it has expanded to Kansas City with a 40,000-square-foot lease at Corrigan Station, 1829 Walnut St.
“The energy and the hometown pride that’s there and the amount of creators that live there, it’s almost a no-brainer for us,” Adam Wacenske, general manager for WeWork’s southern region, said in an interview.
WeWork expects it could welcome more than 750 members in its shared office space, which will take the third through sixth floors of Corrigan Station.
WeWork adds to Kansas City’s growing inventory of co-working spaces, which includes iWerx in North Kansas City, Think Big Coworking in the Crossroads, Village Square in Kansas City, Kan., and Bonfire in Mission, among others.
Co-working, or shared workspaces, involves leasing small offices or work areas to small companies, startups and entrepreneurs while offering common access to shared office equipment, furniture and amenities. Beyond physical office space, coworking locations appeal to small companies and entrepreneurs who might look to share ideas or collaborate with others working in the same location.
WeWork is something of a startup itself, but one that has quickly expanded its reach globally and has more than 90,000 members working out far-flung locations.
“We have 90,000 members, approximately 70 percent of them have done business together,” Wacenske said.
The company was founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey. WeWork last year hit a $16 billion valuation, according to multiple reports. SoftBank, the Japanese telecommunications company that’s the majority owner of Overland Park-based Sprint, is said to be considering a $3 billion investment in WeWork.
According to WeWork, McKelvey grew up in a commune in the Pacific Northwest and Neumann lived at times on a kibbutz in Israel, both environments that lends themselves to cooperating and sharing.
“You can definitely see the roots (of WeWork) from their backgrounds,” Wacenske said.
WeWork’s lease means Corrigan Station is now 90 percent leased.
The remaining available space is the second floor, which covers 11,000 square feet, as well as ground-level retail in the parking garage.
Hollis and Miller Architects moved into Corrigan Station in December, and Holmes Murphy, an insurance brokerage, moved in during January. Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room and the Roasterie are retail tenants at Corrigan Station.
Corrigan Station was co-developed by Copaken Brooks, a Kansas City real estate firm, and 3D Development. Both developers took over the 132,000-square-foot building that had once been envisioned for luxury apartments but shifted to a $50 million mixed-use office development to meet potential interest from office users looking for space in the Crossroads district.
The strategy was a risk in a real estate market where few developers are willing to take on office projects of this scale without having at least half the building pre-leased.
“I think we are in the right place,” said Jon Copaken, principal with Copaken Brooks. “I think this part of the Crossroads, to have a big building in the midst of an area that’s generally smaller buildings makes for a neat opportunity for larger companies who want to be part of what’s going on in the Crossroads.”
WeWork plans to hold tours for its space in April and open its Kansas City location early this summer.
“They’re really the dominant group within that category,” Copaken said. “To me, it says a lot of great things about the building and the location and downtown. To me, it also really says a lot about Kansas City because this is a global company that, obviously in a big way, thinks some portion of the Kansas City workforce is ready to work in a different way.”