A five-story office building that has sat vacant for three years at Renner Boulevard and 95th Street in Lenexa may be resurrected as a mixed-use apartment and office building.
- It was constructed in 2008 but has been vacant since 2020, when Kiewit outgrew it and moved a couple of blocks north to the former Perceptive Software office at City Center.
Driving the news: Aaron Mesmer of Block Real Estate Services and Rich Kniss, of Prairie Village-based NSPJ Architects presented a plan to the Lenexa Planning Commission Monday that envisions apartments on the upper floors and a partial first floor for office space while adding a larger second building of apartments immediately to the west of the existing building.
Details: The second building will use compatible architecture and will attempt to replicate the feeling of a walkable urban development, Kniss said.
- It will also have a courtyard in the interior, and there will be public space and amenities around the entire site.
- The most visible exterior change to the original building will be the addition of balconies.
- Their request for rezoning and preliminary plan approval for what has been branded The Residences at Renner 95 calls for the 150,000-square-foot original building, referred to as “Building 1” in their plans, to have 80 apartments plus some office and retail on the ground floor.
- The second building would also be five stories but bigger in size, with 353,744 square feet, 239 apartments and internal parking.
What else: The apartment breakdown for the first building is 26 efficiencies, 15 one-bedrooms, 35 two-bedrooms and four three-bedrooms.
- For the second bigger building, there will be eight efficiencies, 130 single-bedrooms, and 101 two-bedrooms.
- The development would potentially have pickleball courts and a dog park on its eastern edge and would also have access to the 95th Street bike and pedestrian trail leading from Old Town Lenexa to the Shawnee Mission Park streamway.
- For Building 1, the first floor would keep some office space and devote another area to flexible work space, while adding walk-out apartments on the other side of a central lobby.
- The newer Building 2 would have an interior parking garage and a second-level main clubhouse as well as a central courtyard with “first class amenities” like a pool, putting green and bocce ball, Kniss said.
A concern: The amount of office space that will remain has become a sticking point with city planning staff, who recommended that more office space remain to enhance the mixed use aspect of the development.
- The city’s planners cautioned against converting vacant former offices to residential use too quickly and too soon after the recent market shift following the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The market for office space should be given a chance to rebound, staff wrote in a document analyzing the plan.
Some history: At the time the Renner Corporate Centre was platted, Lenexa and other cities were in hot competition for more Class A office space, and employers were being offered incentives that encouraged more building.
- Some, like the former Perceptive Software, moved a few miles from other nearby cities.
- The Covid-19 pandemic changed that, as working from home became necessary and preferred by many employees.
What they’re saying: That decrease in demand for office space is the driving force behind the new plan for 95th Street and Renner, Mesmer told the planning commission.
- The empty building is in a prominent and highly visible location, close by an interstate highway.
- But despite “aggressive” marketing for office users the past three years, there has been no success finding a tenant, Mesmer said.
- Meanwhile studies show more than 1.1 million square feet of office space available in the area and more likely on the way after medical technology giant Cerner announced it was consolidating its Kansas City area offices, he said.
Key quote: “What we’re competing with is a market where office space has been given back, we’re competing with a post-Covid environment where hybrid workers are changing how we’re using space,” he said.
What happens next with Lenexa apartments proposal
The planning commission unanimously recommended the plan to the full city council for its Dec. 6 discussion, but under the condition that the developers retain more of the office space in the original building.
Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.