Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Creativity, Culture and Community

Not all decisions are rational. While this statement goes against conventional wisdom and MBA-think, it's true. In fact, most decisions are first made at an emotional level, then rationalized. Such was the case when we began thinking about purchasing a building in the Crossroads.

I own an advertising agency — Meers Advertising. For the past 13 years, we leased office space in the River Market area. We loved the River Market. It had restaurants, apartments and vibrancy. We loved our building — the original Water Building in Kansas City. It had wonderful history and a story to tell. It became part of our company culture.

But there was something missing in the River Market. It had history, but it lacked glue. There were a few creative firms, but very few opportunities to see one another. There was a fledgling River Market Merchants Association, but it seemed to lack the focus to turn the area into a community.

As we neared the end of our lease, we began looking to purchase a building. It was time. After spending close to $500,000 in rent over the past five years with no equity to show for it, purchasing a building seemed like the rational thing to do. And, as I said above, there was some emotion driving the decision. I mean, I can think of a lot of things I would rather do with $500,000 than pay rent.

But there was a deeper issue than the money. There was the desire to be part of a community. A desire to be in a neighborhood that was moving forward. We wanted an opportunity to be part of the conversation, to understand the challenges and take an active role in helping the community grow and prosper.

We looked at buildings in the River Market, in downtown and even thought about building on the Central West Side. But the Crossroads kept drawing us back. We saw the Crossroads as the creative heart of the city. And as an ad agency, we couldn't see why we would look anyplace else.

Could we have purchased and renovated a building in Midtown? Yes. 39th Street or Westport? Certainly. But the Crossroads had the right mix of creativity, culture and community. We could grow here. We could be part of an evolving neighborhood.

We purchased the Corona Litho building at 1811 Walnut and renovated it this spring. It is an anchor for our business and a stage for our community involvement. That's what makes this building and opportunity so special.

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