Welcome to the new home of The Landmark. Well, you’re not actually sitting in here with me in our new digs at 212 Marshall Road, Suite C, Platte City. So please consider this your virtual welcome. You’ll get an in-person welcome, a handshake and a tour when you drop in.
Our new home is only three-tenths of a mile from our old home, which was the historic Landmark building at 252 Main. But the new spot is so close to Main that it might still be considered ‘downtown,’ if you want to get technical. In fact it feels like we’re chasing City Hall up the hill. The city folks might think we’re spying on them, might get a complex or something. While we’re at 212 Marshall, Platte City’s new city facility is going up a short distance away at 224 Marshall.
We’re excited about our new professional office space. It certainly fits our needs much better in today’s technological world. At 252 Main, we basically had placed some desks and file cabinets inside an old print shop and called it a newspaper office. At 212 Marshall, we’re in what can be described as a more comfortable and more appropriate setting for office discussions, sometimes confidential interviews (both in person and over the phone) with sources and newsmakers. I’m feeling spoiled by suddenly having a comfortable office with a door that I can actually close when I don’t want discussions to be overheard by folks coming in the front door. Couldn’t do that at the old spot.
It also puts us in a more appropriately sized footprint. The ol’ Landmark building had a total of 3,400 square feet. Of that, we used only 900 square feet on a daily basis. First the advent of computers, and later the advent of remote workers, has really cut down on the amount of square footage a newspaper needs to do its thing. I often tell our staff with a straight face that if we had to, we could produce the newspaper from the single-car garage at my home.
In 2008, we converted the upstairs of The Landmark building to an apartment style space so our oldest daughter could live there during a semester of her final year in college while she was doing an internship in Kansas City. In more recent years, a portion of the upstairs was being used only as a Landmark Live studio, while the other side of the top floor was simply a storage area for Foley family personal belongings. In other words, there was about 2,500 sq. ft. of space that The Landmark didn’t really need. Sure, all of us at The Landmark love history, will always love the historic building at 252 Main and we even love the late 1800s typecase cabinets and the early 1900s printing equipment that we maneuvered our way around all those years. But I always knew there would come a right time to get into a more modern, more professional, more appropriately-sized and more user-friendly setting.
This whole ‘sell a historic building/lease a new office space’ couldn’t have gone any smoother. Seriously. There wasn’t even a hiccup. Easiest transaction process I’ve ever traversed.
The thought process had jumped into my mind many months ago when I drove by the history-rich old gas station at 213 Hwy. 92 in Platte City. It’s the former Jim’s Standard station. David Barth had purchased it. What he has done to that building–now known as Zane’s–is striking and impressive, and as I drove by it one day I said to myself: “Self, that old gas station looks fantastic. When I really get serious about selling The Landmark building I should give David Barth a call.”
Fast forward to late June of this year when I was doing a story on Barth’s planned development near the intersection of Running Horse and Hwy. D. As I picked up my cell phone and got ready to buzz Barth’s number for a comment to go with the story I was writing, it hit me that this may as well be the day that I gauge his interest. In typical David Barth fashion, when he saw my number pop up on his caller ID he answered the phone by saying: “Hey Ivan, is this conversation on the record or off the record?” Lol. I told him let’s make it both, and started with a question about whether he would have an interest in buying an historic building in downtown Platte City. “Absolutely I would,” was his reply.
Things progressed quickly and smoothly from there. I soon found out that when David Barth is ready to do something he is really ready to do something. There is no wasted time. In that phone conversation, Dave explained that the timing might be perfect because his son Blake would soon be primed to make a purchase. A few days later, Blake and Dave arrived to look at the building, we walked through while chatting not only about the building but a variety of things such as local history, etc., and about 45 minutes or an hour later Blake and I were shaking hands on a deal. I told you this process was smooth. And fast.
The next point of conversation moved to a potential closing date. It was at that moment I remarked that I’d like to push closing out about 60 days because hey, I’ll need time to find somewhere to move The Landmark’s operations. “Do you know of anything available?” I asked. Dave reminded me that he had purchased the former health department building and he was early in the process of making improvements, with a plan to lease some space. A few days later we viewed 1,100 square feet of space in his building, Dave asked if I thought it would work for us and I said it absolutely would. His team got busy putting in luxury vinyl tile in the lobby, front office entry, hallway and kitchenette, new carpet in the individual offices, new LED lighting, fresh paint and new windows. Guess what? Thanks to the hard work of Barth and his crews, we started moving items into the space 47 days after I had asked for 60 days to get the newspaper into a new home. Deadline’s butt was kicked.
I want to thank many folks who have been of great help the past several weeks. From July 8 on, my wife Linda has given up all but one of her weekends and most of her evenings to help sort through my 41 years worth of items–business and personal–that were in the building as we prepped for the move. The process seemed almost overwhelming at the beginning but with many trips to the donation dock at Hillcrest Thrift Shop, some personal items delivered to our three kids, many sacks of trash for the Platte City refuse truck, and some creative packing, we got there. Also in that regard, special thanks to the driver of the mobile shredding truck who showed up to purge 35 bank boxes full of confidential documents used in our business operations and confidential documents used in our news gathering over the years.
Also special thanks to family and friends who helped in the moving process on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27. Landmark office manager Cindy Rinehart, 31 years at this job and she still has the desire and the energy to go above and beyond. Cindy is really energized by this office relocation, which has made my life easier. Daughter Alyssa and her husband Todd Shifflett, along with little helpers Mack, Lucy, and tiny helper Van. Alyssa’s main project was loading up, unloading and organizing in chronological order 90 years of bound copies of Landmark editions. That was a major chore. Todd was the muscle helping me load and unload the moving truck with things like desks, file cabinets, boxes and shelving. Our son Kurt, who was out of town for Saturday moving fun but arrived from Manhattan on Sunday to put in several hours. The Landmark’s Missouri Hall of Fame photojournalist Bill Hankins, a true friend who not only showed up to photograph our final days in the old building and our early days in the new office (I’ll get some of those pics posted on Facebook soon) but also helped move some things; and Steve and Laura Shifflett of King City, who spent a good portion of their Saturday afternoon helping the cause.
Total team effort.
Hope to see you drop by our new space real soon.