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It’s possible the Lightwell building’s exterior hasn’t been cleaned since 1977, joked Tim Schaffer as he walked a vine-wrapped rooftop terrace that overlooks downtown Kansas City. 

“It was totally unintentional, the way it came together,” Schaffer, president of AREA Real Estate Advisors, said of the multi-million-dollar office redevelopment project that’s quickly evolved into what Schaffer and the Lightwell team liken to a downtown innovation district.

Beneath the 30-story former City Center Square building’s dated, wood-paneled walls and dust-drenched carpets lie polished concrete floors and pillars, exposed beams and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. More than an aesthetic, the blank-slate features signal the building’s modern rebirth and serve as a symbol of the redevelopment team’s commitment to severing ties with archaic approaches to corporate real estate, said Schaffer.