New fencing for troubled Flashcube building after gate destroyed

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's new fencing surrounding the troubled Flashcube Building in Downtown Kansas City after a gate with access to a lower area around the building was destroyed.

The new fencing guards the exterior of that gate on the south lower part of the building underneath 8th Street.

There's also new fencing surrounding the upper exterior of the building on its east side facing Main Street and along the north side of the building where there's a catwalk.

Developers plan to convert the old office building into apartments.

The building has been plagued by looters and vagrants in its pre-development stage.



PREVIOUS REPORTING: KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A building in downtown Kansas City has the nickname Flashcube, but its current condition doesn’t match the glitz and glamour of its nickname.

The structure on the west side of Main Street between 7th and 8th Streets is called the Flashcube Building because the all glass exterior resembles a flash cube for cameras, a technology first unveiled more than 50 years ago.

Squatters, trash and broken windows have all been an issue for owners of the vacant building, which is slated for development.

Downtown resident Paul Davidson walks by the building to catch the bus, says it isn’t a pretty picture.
"Light posts have been missing, broken windows, doors that have been opened that should not have been opened," he said.

Davidson first called the Flashcube Building to the 41 Action News Investigators attention in mid-May.

He sent pictures showing how easy it was to climb over a locked gate, giving access to lower areas on the east and north sides of the building.

When the 41 Action News Investigators went to look, there were tall weeds on the front plaza facing Main Street, trash along the east and north lower sides of the building, a homeless man apparently living under an overpass next to the building, and a utility room located underneath the front plaza with the door wide open.

Davidson, who used to work as a facility maintenance man in a large office building, says problems with unattended large structures can include potential energy hazards, compressed air issues, hazardous waste and trespassers.

"I don't want to be a victim of an assault or theft or some other crime,” Davidson said. “It's a target and these kinds of targets tend to bring in people that are not productive members of society.”

Davidson isn't the only one to take a closer look at the Flashcube Building.

When the 41 Action News Investigators started asking questions, a city inspector came out to investigate.

That inspector from the KCMO Dangerous Buildings Unit took her own pictures and looked around.

However, that inspection determined the building was not dangerous and no citation was given to the owner.

Kansas City Police report they've received 13 calls to the building in the last year.

They include six prowler calls and calls for ambulances.

Other officers came out on their own to check out issues at the building.

"One might say one is too many, but that's quite a number of calls for a building that has been empty for some time," Davidson said.

Records show Kansas City based Worcester Investments owns the building.

The 41 Action News Investigators told owner Paul Worcester about the issues.

He declined to comment on camera, but he did say he's in the process of getting financing to convert the old office building to an apartment complex with some retail shops.

According to a 2016 report published when Worcester Investments bought the building, the firm was planning on spending $43 million on the project.

Sean O'Byrne of the Downtown Council says his agency is working to get social services for people who've been trespassing on the property.

"This one has its challenges and it's a difficult building to secure while it's in the pre-development stage," he said.

After the 41 Action News Investigators spoke to Worcester, garbage left by trespassers on the lower exterior of the building was picked up, the open utility room door was boarded up and a security guard was keeping watch on the property.

"They need a caretaker, a building of that size, if I could be plain with it, needs a baby sitter," Davidson said.

City records show investors have applied for 12 different permits with one of them closed and 11 of them open.

Worcester says the project is on target, but he offered no timetable for when financing would be secured, construction would begin or when the project would be completed.

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