Boise-based anti-fraud technology company Kount could have easily relocated into some anonymous office building in some anonymous business park in the suburbs.
That would not have suited CEO Brad Wiskirchen. He wanted a new space that matched the company’s culture, which he sums up with three words: open, honest and fearless.
Wiskirchen in spring will move Kount, now with 158 employees and constantly growing, across the Boise River from the Lusk Neighborhood into the 1910 Langroise Building — the Main Street building where a mobile crane closed off 10th Street from April until the end of September.
“This is the key to the whole thing,” Wiskirchen said. “This will be the new face of Kount. It’s saying we’re not afraid to take a big challenge.”
The heavy-duty redevelopment has given the structure a bombed-out World War II look with all the windows removed and window frames widened to bring more daylight in.
“They beat the tar out of the walls for the windows,” Wiskirchen said.
Various decades of tenant improvements with false ceiling were all stripped down to the walls and floors.
Kount and building owner Shane Felker of Sawtooth Development plan to keep concrete pillars and ductwork exposed, pretty much sticking to the 108-year-old building’s structural bones.
“There was drop ceiling upon drop ceiling put in over the years,” Felker said. “As we peeled them away, we saw we could go vertical and have exposed concrete and mechanicals. To do that required getting lucky to get hooked up with some tech company (that appreciated Felker’s vision).”
Felker and Kount didn’t just stick to the existing structure. They decided to add a fifth floor on the roof that covers most, but not all, of the roof.
“It took a lot of vision,” Wiskirchen said. “I didn’t have the vision for a long time. Everything we did was for the optimal experience for our employees.”
Kount was considering leasing the whole building, while Felker wanted to save the ground floor for retail. How about adding a floor?
“It’s a concrete bunker,” Felker said of the building. “I wondered if it would support going up. We took the concrete roof off, and that removed enough weight to support a fifth floor.”
The idea was to give employees the ability to collaborate outdoors and “hang out.” There will still be the outdoor patio, but the 7,000-square-foot space has evolved into a rather small nook for Wiskirchen’s corner office. The accounting department will also be on the roof along with a kitchenette, a feature in place on all Kount’s floors, and a board room able to seat 20 with a view of the foothills.
Kount is leasing floors two through four plus the new fifth floor and the basement, but the second floor will remain undeveloped for future expansion. Kount could ultimately accommodate 300 employees at the Langroise building, also long known as the John Alden building.
The third floor will have the sales and marketing office and customer support, while the fourth floor will have product development and technology. The basement will have bike storage for 50 to 100 bikes, showers and a large meeting room.
Kount develops technology that can analyze hundreds of bits of data when a customer makes a credit card purchase online or on a mobile phone to determine if it is a valid or fraudulent transaction within 250 milliseconds.
Kount has shared a Lusk structure with its parent company, Keynetics, since 2005.
CTA Group was the architect and Andersen Construction is the general contractor.
Felker in 2013 bought the Langroise building that had been empty since about 2009-10. He first built the One Nineteen condos on the building’s parking lot and then scratched his head regarding what to do with the shuttered Langroise.
“We called it white noise,” Felker said. “People walk by it and didn’t even know it was there.”
The first ground-floor tenants, Neckar Coffee and Hue Salon, are already open even as the rest of the building remains a construction zone. Felker also signed up A Café; The Drop, from the Good Burger team; and Bodega Boise, an urban convenience store, deli and grocer.
Felker avoided national chains.
“One of the things that make a downtown urban environment interesting is it’s unique,” he said. “People who visit are looking for something they don’t have in their own downtown.”