Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Disability organization to renovate historic building in Kansas City for its new headquarters

From The Kansas City Star:

An empty building at 3710 Main St. that once housed a textile factory is to be renovated by The Whole Person, a social service agency that serves disabled people.

The agency, which has 2,000 clients throughout the metropolitan area, is planning to start work this summer on its $5 million redevelopment of the historic Goodenow Textile Co. building in midtown Kansas City.

The three-story brick structure opened in 1929 as an undergarment manufacturer.

“We wanted to stay in the main part of the city and be more visible within the metropolitan area,” said Brian Ellefson, president of Whole Person’s board.

“It’s a good location,” he said, “particularly with the revitalization of the area.”

Whole Person ( has been providing programs for disabled people for 30 years, including employment and independent living assistance, and civil rights advocacy. It has offices in Kansas City, Independence, Gladstone and Prairie Village.

“We wanted to stay in Kansas City and be accessible to our consumers,” said Mike Wiley, director of marketing and communication.

The company employs about 80 people, and the plan calls for consolidating many of them at the new facility. At least 10 positions are expected to be shifted from Kansas. The future of the existing offices, including a nearby space at 3420 Broadway, has not been determined.

Chris Sally of Development Initiatives, a consultant assisting Whole Person, said the group would be seeking federal and state historic tax credits as part of its financing package. The building also is located in an area that qualifies for property tax abatements.

The developer has not hired an architect or contractor at this point. Ellefson said his agency wanted the building renovation to incorporate universal design standards to make it accessible to all people, as well as green, energy-saving features.

The project would be the latest development in the revival of Main Street in the midtown area.

Reeves Wiedeman Co., a family-owned wholesale plumbing supply company, recently renovated a historic building at 3635 Main St. Last week, a groundbreaking ceremony was held by MainCor, a nonprofit for streetscape improvements in the area.

“We’re really excited The Whole Person is moving to Main Street,” said Diane Burnette, executive director of MainCor. “They got one of the best old buildings left.”