Despite the uncertainty of the economy, the Gryphon Building is attracting tenants and should be nearly 60 percent leased when it opens in a few weeks.
Work is under way to put the finishing touches on the $8.8 million restoration of the five-story building at 1027 S. Main St., for a Sept. 1 opening. The building is being leased in stages by floor. Each floor has about 20,000 square feet. The fourth floor will be the first floor to open with the main floor.
Pete Ramsour, project manager for the local partners who own the building, said, “We’re 44 percent leased right now. By the time we open, we’ll be close to 60 percent.’’
But the picture was not as rosy in January when very little leasing activity was happening. Then things began clicking, Ramsour said.
“The synergy occurred when we brought in a human resource company. Then, the supplier of the company decided to relocate here as well,’’ he said. “That’s what got things rolling for us.’’
Ramsour said it is possible that the tenants who have signed leases could grow their employment.
“Every single tenant is committing to more employment than they currently have,’’ he said. “Some of them are planning 50 percent jumps.’’
One of the new tenants will be Sunrise Media Group, 501 S. Pennsylvania Ave.
Doug Hunt, with Sunrise Media, said, “We have always been an innovator and leader in local marketing. The Gryphon is where we want to be because it will have state-of-the-art technology and green features.
“The space will allow us to expand our in-house video production with a larger studio. It will allow us to stretch our wings a bit.’’
Hunt said the company will move into the building on either Oct. 1 or Nov. 1.
Another company is Onshore Technology Services, which has an office at 613 Main St. in Joplin. It also has offices in St. Louis, Lebanon and Macon. The company recruits workers and gives them intensive training in Internet-technology specialties.
The Gryphon Building Development Center, a business incubator, will be on the third floor. It will feature 19 suites. It will have a common reception area, conference room, kitchen and break room.
The Gryphon will have a fitness center in the building’s basement, and a restaurant and retail space on the first floor. The second through fifth floors will be office space.
The first floor will be the only floor to feature historic elements of the former Interstate Grocers’ Association building. It was on that floor where the executive offices of the grocery company used to be.
The building also has an outdoor venue on its east side. A festival is planned there for this fall.
“It’s a nice outdoor venue, and we plan to make good use of it,’’ Ramsour said.
More than 300 people attended a Friday morning coffee put on by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce at the building.
“Our main parking lot was full,’’ Ramsour said. “I personally spoke to four people we had not spoken to before who are very interested in leasing space. One of them is coming back this week to sign a lease. Another person I spoke with is interested in the restaurant.’’
Built in 1913 through 1915 for $225,000, the building was designed by architect John McKeckie, a pioneer in constructing buildings of reinforced concrete, for the Interstate Grocers’ Association. The association occupied the structure until 1968. Bagcraft moved into the building in 1971 and stayed until 1994, when it moved to Baxter Springs, Kan.