A new co-living concept planned for the Two Light luxury apartment tower will be a game-changer for an evolving generation of entrepreneurs, said Spark KC’s Shervonne Cherry.
“With the ability to literally be four stories, five stories, 20-some stories away from your workplace, you don’t have to worry about that commute, allowing you more time to focus on your business, your team and your revenue streams,” said Cherry, director of community and partnerships for Baltimore-based Spark.
On the northeast corner of Truman Road and Walnut Street in the downtown Power & Light District, Spark KC’s two-level, 15,000-square-foot workspace is expected to augment the city’s first co-living environment wherein “world-class amenities just an elevator ride away,” Cherry said.
The Spark KC space — expected to open in late 2018 – is the first significant addition of office space in the Power & Light District since the opening of H&R Block, said Nick Benjamin, vice president of development for The Cordish Companies and executive director of the Power & Light District. Cordish also is the parent company of Spark KC.
“With the rapid growth of the downtown population, the demand for downtown office space is higher than it has been in many years, and a large segment of that demand is looking for a coworking environment,” Benjamin said Tuesday morning in an announcement about the company’s plans.
Two Light, the second of four planned high-rise, luxury apartment buildings to be built within the nine-block perimeter of the Power & Light District, joins One Light as the second new construction high-rise apartment building in the past 50 years in downtown Kansas City, according to Cordish. Residents are expected to begin moving into Two Light as early as May 4.
“The Power & Light District has been a key anchor in our efforts to bring new companies and job creators to Kansas City,” said Drew Solomon, vice president at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. “Spark will add more fuel to the engine of job growth in downtown Kansas City and meets a growing need for entrepreneurial collaborative space in the central business district.”
A 'tremendous partner' in Cordish
Gazing down the Walnut Street Tuesday morning, Troy Schulte said the corridor has developed into something of an incubator street.
“When you look at Spark KC, WeWork’s facility that went into the rehabbed Corrigan building, and then as you continue south to the Plexpod that went in just off Walnut at Westport — we had no idea that Walnut was the magic street for job creation, but we are tickled to death to see Cordish make this investment,” said Schulte, city manager for Kansas City, Missouri.
The co-living development is a significant step toward growing entrepreneurship downtown, said Kansas City Councilman Scott Taylor, also noting Two Light’s potential to help drive the city closer to its goal of a sustainable downtown population of 40,000 residents.
Adding more Class A office space is another benefit, Schulte said, dovetailing with the city’s effort to draw more premier working environments to downtown.
“From the city perspective, we have a lot of work to do, but we have a tremendous partner in Cordish, which has delivered on what they said they’d do all the way going back 12 or 13 years,” he said, referencing the development of one of the city’s showpiece entertainment districts.
“The ecosystem is on fire here,” Cherry said. “There’s a lot of companies moving here, taking advantage of the low cost of living and the talent in the area. Where your talent is, that’s where your company goes.”
Spark saw that with Tissue Analytics, a Baltimore-based health tech company focusing on wound care analytics, she said. The firm recently partnered with Cerner and is opening its second offices in Kansas City, she said.
“That’s a testament to the KC ecosystem,” Cherry said.
In its first two years of operation, Spark’s flagship co-living space in Baltimore welcomed more than 120 member companies and 350 individuals, according to the co-living community. Kansas City joins the Maryland startup hub, as well as Louisville, Kentucky, in the Spark family.
“We don’t just pick cities by throwing a dart at a dart board,” Cherry said. “We really take a look at the landscape, what’s happening, the growth.”
Addressing a crowd gathered Tuesday morning at the future Spark space in Two Light, Adam Arredondo, CEO of the Kansas City Startup Foundation, touted the work done across the entrepreneur ecosystem to build an environment so welcoming of development.
(Editor’s note: Startland News is a program of the KCSF.)
“It’s pretty amazing that we’re all here today, seeing the convention hotel and all the growth that’s happening downtown,” he said. “It’s a huge testament to the momentum of the city, and specifically with Spark, the momentum of the startup community.”
That rapid movement continues this week, as community conversations begin about the details of Cordish’s Three Light tower, which also is expected to feature Class A office space, Schulte said.
“This is a good day in Kansas City,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve had a lot of them, and there are a lot more to come.”