From The Walnuts to Western Auto, Surveyors Helped Define Kansas City Condos

by | Jul 27, 2016 | News

Western Auto Lofts in Kansas City

MEC provided the survey and drafting work needed to convert the Western Auto Building to condos in 2004.

Named a historic landmark in 1988, the Western Auto Building and its lighted sign are iconic to the Kansas City skyline. It is just one of the historic buildings given another purpose after careful measurement by McClure Engineering Company’s (MEC) surveyors.

Tuttle-Ayers-Woodward performed the first condominium survey in the Kansas City area for the conversion of the Walnut Apartments to The Walnuts condominium. It was the first of more than 50 condominium surveys that would be completed by MEC’s staff in the Kansas City area, including surveys of the Western Auto Building, Ponce de Leon Condominiums, the Coffee Lofts, and the SoHo Lofts.

“Condos are a different animal,” said Scott Confer, managing director of civil survey. “Instead of property lines out in the dirt, you have to map out everything that separates one unit from a neighbor’s unit. Instead of owning a building, the condo purchaser owns the air space inside the walls.”

Confer describes each floor of the condominium buildings as being almost like an indoor subdivision, where the hallways are like streets and the common areas are owed by the condominium association.

“Every building is different,” said Confer. “I love the historic architecture. The accuracy of how some of the old buildings were put together and the craftsmanship was impressive. From one end to the other, modern buildings are off by a couple inches, but not these.”

Confer completed all of the survey and drafting work for the Western Auto condos in 2004. The unique, curved wall of the building presented a surveying challenge as well as the proximity to the train tracks, but the resulting condominiums were impressive.

“It was a lot of work, but the result was absolutely gorgeous,” said Confer. “It was the first loft I had worked with that had the tall concrete ceilings and the ductwork hanging down in people’s apartments. It blew me away.”

MEC also performed condominium surveys for the renovation of the Kansas City historic garment district, which converted empty warehouses into the elegant SoHo East and SoHo West lofts. As early as 1889, the SoHo West Building, which now houses 41 condos, had been used for the Builders and Trades Exchange. The site now also features a rooftop terrace, health club, club room, and Google Fiber.

Inside one of the Western Auto Building condos

Inside the historic Western Auto Building, the condos included tall concrete ceilings and exposed ductwork.