Reviving a legend with a bold vision for the community.
The long-vacant headquarters of the Kansas City Star, once a bustling hub of journalism in the heartland, is undergoing a remarkable transformation into a vibrant center of urban life.
The KC Star Grand Place project, led by local developer Copaken Brooks, aims to revive the iconic 1911 printing plant through an innovative mix of preservation and new construction. The revival offers a bold vision for this decaying landmark.
A “perfect balance between modern and historic.”
The Star called the stately printing facility home for nearly a century before decamping to a modern building in 2006. The empty structure subsequently fell into disrepair for over a decade, an increasingly conspicuous symbol of urban decay — a perplexing fate for such a landmark.
Copaken Brooks principals Jay Tomljenovich and Scott Brody recognized latent potential amidst the blight. In 2018, they assembled a team to lead the daunting redevelopment into a mixed-use hub of offices, retail, dining, and residences enveloping a lively public plaza.
“We saw the potential for this site to bridge downtown with the Crossroads,” Brody said, describing the strategic location. This reimagined Star complex intends to spur growth between Kansas City’s central business district and Crossroads Arts District.
The project melds preservation and progress. “Honoring the architectural significance of the building is critical,” said lead architect James Gibson. The 1911 printing plant’s facade and defining features will be thoughtfully restored, while new construction will echo the historic aesthetic with a modern flair.
Crystal Structures has been engaged to restore and replace three original skylights that also fell to time’s cruel decay. Along with a new, fourth skylight, the sunlight will be ushered into the revitalized spaces.
“This is a wonderful project,” said Gus Frey of Crystal Structures’ national sales team. “It was a long time in the making. We’re excited to restore the skylights and bring the KC Star building back to its former glory.”
The finished Grand Place aims to strike a “perfect balance between modern and historic,” as the developers describe it. The revived complex promises to be an inviting communal venue highlighted by daylight pouring through restored historic skylights.
When complete in 2025, the reinvented KC Star printing plant and campus will model breathing new life into once-crumbling urban relics. Kansas City’s beloved Star has found its second act.
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