Village Square developed a waiting list soon after opening in 2015, said Adam Arredondo. But as larger coworking spaces with more amenities and resources debuted, interest waned in the 3,000-square-foot operation at 45th Street and State Line Road.
“What’s our most valuable contribution to the community right now?” said Arredondo, CEO of the nonprofit Kansas City Startup Foundation, which manages Village Square and serves as the parent organization of Startland News. “There’s less of a need for coworking, but — for example — our education efforts are taking off. So we need to reallocate our energy to the areas the community is demanding.”
“We need to evolve as the community evolves,” he added.
The KCSF leader announced to tenants of the coworking space last week that the Village Square building would soon be going on the market, with operations to be suspended contingent upon finding a buyer. A for-sale sign went up Wednesday at 4436 State Line Road — in the heart of the Kansas City Startup Village.
A move is planned by the end of the year, Arredondo said, noting the organization’s current six-person staff is excited to relocate to an area of the city where the KCSF can be more impactful. Details of the new location have not yet been announced.
“We need to be closer to the energy of the startup community and where momentum is being built,” Arredondo said. “Coworking and managing Village Square has become a fourth priority for us — behind storytelling, building an entrepreneurial mindset in students, and convening and connecting the startup community.”
Roughly 300,000 square feet of coworking space has come online since Village Square opened three years ago, said Arredondo and Matthew Marcus, KCSF director of engagement. The space took shape organically as leadership recognized the need for coworking within the fledgling startup community at the time, Marcus said.
“The benefit that we can provide as cultivators of the community is better spent in areas where we aren’t duplicating efforts,” Marcus said. “It makes the most sense to allow those who are more focused on coworking to do so, and to allow us more bandwidth for connections and other programs.”
Since adding Katie Kimbrell as director of education this spring, the foundation’s efforts to develop entrepreneurial thinking in students — coined KCSFedu — have gained momentum and will be given more focus as the KCSF transitions away from coworking, Arredondo said.
Additionally, the KCSF actively partners with both Plexpod and WeWork, Arredondo said, emphasizing the need to help amplify such cornerstones of the local coworking scene, rather than compete with them.
Village Square’s building on State Line Road is owned by CEED Properties LLC, which is controlled by entrepreneurs Mike Wrenn and Becky Cole. The duo previously awarded the KCSF a $1 million gift to be paid out over five years, after previous longstanding financial support.
Cole, chief financial officer for Affinity Worldwide, is among the KCSF’s 13-member board, which includes a collection of the city’s most active entrepreneur community leaders, Arredondo said. The board approved the organization’s pivot away from coworking in May, which was followed by CEED Properties’ move to sell the property earlier this month, Marcus said.
“Though the building is for sale, the concept of the Kansas City Startup Village is no longer just a small community on State Line Road,” said Sarah Shipley, chair of the KCSF board. “The spirit of entrepreneurialism has swept across the metro and developed from a village to a metropolis and is supported by the Kansas City Startup Foundation. We were delighted to be the catalyst for startup growth in KC, and are just as delighted to be a hub for the startup ecosystem across the region.”