Kansas City Federal Reserve Building (1921-2008)
Backstory and Context
In 1913 President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Federal Reserve Act. It called for the creation of a decentralized national bank in order to safeguard the economy from financial distress and limit the power of private banks. Under the law, twelve separate districts were established around the country, each with its own Federal Reserve Bank. Kansas City was chosen to be the home of the bank for district 10-J, which included Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Missouri. The city’s strong growth in the 1910s, economic influence, and good transportation network made it an ideal location. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City opened in 1914. For its first seven years the bank was housed in the R. A. Long Building while plans were made for a permanent headquarters.
A site for the new bank building was chosen at 925 Grand Boulevard, and construction began in 1920. The bank was built by the George A. Fuller Company and designed in the Classical Revival style by the popular Chicago architectural firm Graham Anderson Probst and White. The 21-story structure was built with reinforced steel clad in a limestone exterior. The exterior features several examples of ornamentation at the base and cap; the most notable of these are two stone panels of the west side of the base with depictions of the Spirits of Industry and Commerce. Construction was completed and the Federal Reserve Bank relocated to the building in 1921. It was the tallest building in Missouri until 1926.
When it originally opened the Federal Reserve Building contained a three-story lobby, an employees’ café, lounges, a gymnasium, auditorium, medical and dental offices, four bowling alleys, high ceilings for natural lighting, and eight spare floors rented as commercial space. It also featured a large underground vault with six and a half feet thick walls and a 50-ton door. Over the years the building underwent multiple updates and renovations to modernize it; in the 1930s it became the first completely air conditioned office building in Kansas City. In 1965 a four-story annex was built to the east of the building to house a parking garage and an expanded underground vault. For four years Harry Truman had a post-presidential office in Room 1107, until the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum was completed in 1957.
In 2008 the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas moved out of the building and into a new headquarters in Penn Valley Park. Since then the building on 925 Grand Boulevard has remained vacant. The building was purchased by Townsend Inc., which originally sought to redevelop it into luxury condos. After the Great Recession hit, the company modified its plans and decided to turn the building into a hotel instead. The plans never advanced, and in 2013 Townsend lost ownership of the building over issues with its lenders. It was then acquired by Colorado developer Delta Quad Holdings LLC. The developer plans on converting the Federal Reserve building into an Embassy Suites hotel, while keeping some of the structure’s historic features. Commencement of the project has been delayed several times due to trouble obtaining financing from lenders. Currently, the renovations are expected to be completed in 2020 at a cost of more than $100 million.
Bell, Steve. “Kansas City Council Committee Endorses Incentives For Old Federal Reserve Building.” KCUR. May 12, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2018. http://kcur.org/post/kansas-city-council-committee-endorses-incentives-old-federal-reserve-building#stream/0
Collison, Kevin. “Embassy Suites Anticipates Mid-2020 Opening in Old Federal Reserve.” CityScene KC. May 9, 2018. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://cityscenekc.com/embassy-suites-anticipates-mid-2020-opening-in-old-federal-reserve/
Collison, Kevin. “Hotel conversion planned for old Federal Reserve building in downtown KC.” Kansas City Star. June 16, 2014. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://www.kansascity.com/news/business/development/article562435/Hotel-conversion-planned-for-old-Federal-Reserve-building-in-downtown-KC.html
Collison, Kevin. “Two Major Hotel Projects in Downtown Kansas City Continue Moving Forward in Addition to New Convention Hotel.” CityScene KC. June 26, 2017. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://cityscenekc.com/two-major-hotel-projects-in-downtown-kansas-city-continue-to-moving-forward-in-addition-to-new-convention-hotel/
KansasCityFed. “Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City: A Century of Confidence” (video). Posted March 19, 2014. Accessed May 19, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2Ae3XZ3hQw
Roberts, Bob. “$100M hotel project will retain former KC Fed building’s historic flair.” Kansas City Business Journal. September 10, 2015. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2015/09/10/100m-hotel-project-will-retain-former-kc-fed.html
Roberts, Bob. “With incentives in bank, $146M Federal Reserve hotel project will proceed.” Kansas City Business Journal. June 8, 2016. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2016/06/08/grand-reserve-hotel-tif-redevelopment-agreement.html
Rosin, Elizabeth & Kristen Ottesen. “Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.” National Park Service – National Register of Historic Places. February 27, 2007. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/nps-nr/07000327.pdf
Image 1: http://kcur.org/post/kansas-city-council-committee-endorses-incentives-old-federal-reserve-building#stream/0
Image 2: https://trumanlibrary.org/photographs/view.php?id=17866
Image 3: https://cityscenekc.com/embassy-suites-anticipates-mid-2020-opening-in-old-federal-reserve/