Kansas City’s historic Nelkin-Piper building, located at 811 Wyandotte Street, went nearly a quarter of a century before finding a new commercial use in 2010. After 25 years of vacancy, the dilapidated building was sold for $1M to Gee Whiz Holdings LLC, owned by Trozzolo Communications Group. Built in 1881, the three-story, 32,000-square-foot building is one of the oldest in the urban core.
At the time, the advertising and public relations agency saw a spike in growth from the previous year, prompting them to relocate their headquarters to a larger space. “We wanted to stay downtown so we bought a building two blocks east of our longtime rented home at 8th Street and Broadway,” says Angelo Trozzolo, President of Trozzolo Communications Group.
The company planned to spend $3.5 million to renovate the site, hiring Helix Architecture + Design Inc. to design the building’s improvements, and McCownGordon Construction LLC as the general contractor.
Here’s a short, funny clip showing how the initial building inspection went!
“Trozzolo fell in love with the building, despite its many blemishes (some seen and some unseen),” says Jay Tomlinson, Founding Principal at Helix Architecture. “The challenge for Helix was to preserve and restore the romantic characteristics of the building while also transforming it to meet the complicated needs of today’s office culture.”
The building consisted of 27,200 square feet on four above-ground floors and approximately 4,800 square feet in the basement. The renovations exceeded projected costs by $2 million, due to unexpected, and extensive roof and water damage, bringing the total capital investment amount to $6.5 million.
Fortunately, the project was refinanced to accompany $2.5 million in Missouri historic tax credits, Brownfield credits, Enhanced Enterprise Zone credits and tax increment financing, so the roof could be fixed and the building could be completed.
“We were happy to aid Trozzolo with state and local incentive programs to move the project forward,” says Gary Sage, Research & Policy Officer with the EDC. “This was a very distressed building and Trozzolo is a tremendous asset to Kansas City. The resurrection of their building has been tremendous for the downtown.”
Architectural & Historical Research, LLC, was responsible for getting the historic property listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as assisting with historic tax credits.
“Yes, state and local tax incentives figured in the deal,” says Trozzolo. “Although, in these times, those kinds of incentives are available almost anywhere. It was the subtle incentives that ultimately drove our decision. Creativity is fueled by inspiration and stimulation. The rich, diverse, intellectual and cultural brew of this downtown urban environment is our daily double shot of espresso, the fuel that feeds the ferment in our minds. Staying downtown helps us maintain the quality of our product, and no tax cut can be big enough to compensate for diminished quality.”
Trozzolo Communications Group officially moved 50+ employees into the 32,000-square-foot, four-story building in August 2011. The final renovations included restored historic light fixtures, refurbished woodwork, vintage-style pedestal sinks and modern conference rooms, offices and collaboration spaces.
Since the move, Trozzolo has continued to grow and now has 60 employees. They recently merged with Kansas City-based Kuhn & Wittenborn Advertising and plan to accommodate their growth by expanding to another floor of the building.
“We just filled our last open workspace and we are about to begin the build-out on the fourth floor,” says Trozzolo. “Our fourth-floor expansion will add 28 additional workspaces, which should be good for the next four years.”
In 2015, Trozzolo added several key executives to their team, including an executive creative director and a chief operating officer. “Our focus in 2016 will be to continue to attract and retain top drawer talent in every marketing discipline,” says Trozzolo. “If we come across top talent, we plan to go after them, whether or not a position is open. We know the combined talent of our team is our differentiator.”
Trozzolo says the historic building plays a big role in recruiting and retaining talented staff. “We call our place the “Gee Whiz Factory” for a reason. From the time a prospective staff member or client walks through our doors, they can feel the energy through the unique combination of historic preservation and contemporary design.” From color to lighting to artwork, you can definitely tell creativity lives here!
“We are experiencing good growth across all of our key areas,” says Trozzolo. “And we know our location has helped in that growth. Our mission is to tell stories, share information, and engage in conversations that influence people to do business with our clients, and having a meaningful, creative space to do that work is critical to our success.”
Trozzolo helps companies succeed through advertising, public relations, branding and digital communications, without bias toward method or media. Their clients value their strategic approach across all marketing channels and like having a single source for all their marketing needs.
“Plus, they like to come to the Gee Whiz Factory,” adds Trozzolo! We enjoyed our visit as well, and will continue to follow up with this growing Kansas City organization.
For more information about Trozzolo Communications Group, please visit their website.