Cargill on Thursday unveiled its new $60 million complex to be built at the present location of The Wichita Eagle building at 825 E. Douglas.
Company officials unveiled an artist’s rendering and gave more information about the complex at Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell’s news conference at City Hall.
The Eagle building will be torn down and the new complex would open in the summer of 2018. The Eagle, established in 1872, is continuing to explore options downtown for a new home.
Cargill, in the midst of rethinking its business, announced in May that it would stay in Wichita and has been planning a building since then.
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“When we made the commitment, we said that it was a long-term commitment, that we would stay and invest and grow in this community,” said Brian Sikes, corporate vice president. “This is evidence of that.”
The four-story, 188,000-square-foot building will house the company’s 800 employees, who are now working at the company’s building at 151 N. Main.
The city has been deeply involved in negotiations to keep the company in Wichita and relocate within the downtown core area.
“Obviously, we’re very excited,” Longwell said. “Not only are they staying here, but they are investing in the community.”
The company, which is based in Minneapolis, has the headquarters for its meat and other protein production and supply operations – which operate under the umbrella of Cargill Protein Group – in Wichita.
The company has gone through significant changes in the last year to reshape itself to accelerate growth. It has restructured its protein divisions and is spending about $500 million to buy, expand or convert plants.
Part of the reason for the new headquarters is to lend the protein operation a new sense of direction, a company spokesman said.
But the company also has a far more practical reason for the new headquarters: more modern and attractive office space. There will be more open space, a large lobby, a conference center, a cafe with a roof deck and an outdoor courtyard.
It will also consolidate parking. Right now, employees are spread over four or five parking garages. The new complex will get a 750-space parking garage – which will become the city’s largest – at the south end of the complex.
Building the garage is the bulk of the city’s incentive package for the project, although the company will contribute. Longwell estimated the garage would cost $10 million.
Longwell said the city will approve other incentives, such as industrial revenue bonds, as they arise. The city expects to use the garage after business hours for public parking for nearby Intrust Bank Arena.
The state also approved a sizable incentive package, but the Kansas Department of Commerce didn’t respond immediately Thursday afternoon on what those incentives are.
The company will retain its Innovation Center at 300 W. First St., which opened in 2011. The center is where the company develops and tests new products.
The Cargill headquarters is part of an acceleration of downtown redevelopment, said Jeff Fluhr, president of the Greater Wichita Partnership.
“This is elevating our downtown and our city to a new level,” Fluhr said of the Cargill building. “It’s impressive for any market.”
Last year, his group published a map of development along Douglas that showed $180 million in projects that were either underway or soon to break ground. Those included Union Station, The Douglas apartments, the CorTen building, renovations at Intrust Bank, River Vista apartments and the new library.
Since then there have been another roughly $100 million in projects along or near Douglas, including the Cargill building, the redevelopment of the city’s land in Delano and the renovation of Commerce Plaza into the Hilton Garden Inn.
“That’s how fast things are moving,” Fluhr said.