Grand Hall at Power & Light paints the skyline for events

Mark Pomerenke, vice president of operations for NorthPoint Development, was the lead manager for the $70 million project that included transformation of the 31-story Power & Light Building into a 210-unit luxury apartment high-rise.

But if you ask his wife, Kerri, she might tell you about an even more important role Mark has fulfilled in the iconic Art Deco tower.

Due to his impeccable timing in popping the question, the Pomerenkes became the first couple to host their wedding reception at The Grand Hall at Power & Light — a new event space that encompasses 10,000 square feet of opulence on the south side in the historic building.

The Grand Hall, which includes lobby and mezzanine levels at 1330 Baltimore Ave., hosted the Pomerenkes’ reception on Oct. 22. So guess when the $2 million in improvements required to create the premier event space were completed.

“October 21,” said Nicholle McKenzie, director of sales and marketing for The Grand Hall at Power & Light.

Fortunately, she said, Mark Pomerenke excelled at his job of ensuring all construction in the tower got completed on time, because if he and his bride had to host their 300-plus reception guests in a construction zone, he wouldn’t have had anyone to complain to.

As it turned out, McKenzie said, The Grand Hall’s inaugural reception came off without a hitch and the Pomerenkes thoroughly enjoyed all the perks of the new space, including the green light that the entire exterior of the building was bathed in to match the color of Kerri’s bridesmaids’ dresses.

The special lighting wasn’t a one-time occurrence, McKenzie said. Anyone who wants to rent The Grand Hall for a wedding or other evening event can let all of Kansas City know it’s their night with tower lighting in the color or colors of their choice — with more than 1,000 options available thanks to the LED uplighting NorthPoint Development has added to the building.

The historic tower, which opened in 1931 as the Kansas City Power & Light Co.’s headquarters, previously was known for the beacon lighting that glowed in alternating colors atop the Kansas City skyline.

Now, NorthPoint CEO Nathaniel Hagedorn said, the building should become known for offering the most brilliant space in the metro for large events. McKenzie said it can provide seating for parties of as many as 500 and could host a cocktail gathering for 750.

“We’ve already booked 16 events for 2017 and two for 2018,” McKenzie said, and she expects the 2017 number to surge now that the busy Thanksgiving-through-Valentine’s-Day engagement season has begun.

McKenzie, whose goal is to book 50 events next year and 75 in 2018, said she expects weddings and receptions to account for 80 percent of The Grand Hall at Power & Light’s business, with the remainder coming from corporate events and other types of gatherings.

“We do offer discounted rates for nonprofit and charity events,” McKenzie said, noting that The Grand Hall will be hosting Kansas City Fashion Week in March.

Others users should be prepared to write some big checks.

To rent The Grand Hall for a five-hour block costs $4,000 on weekdays, $5,500 on Sundays, $7,500 on Fridays and $8,500 on Saturdays.

For bridal parties that want their marriage ceremony performed there in addition to their reception, there is a $1,000 charge for the additional hour and moving of tables and chairs required. But if parties opt for Oscar-style table seating for both ceremony and reception, McKenzie said, that fee will be waived.

Hagedorn gives McKenzie credit for taking the lead on The Grand Hall project and bringing all the details together into “an event space that is just stunning.”

NorthPoint originally attempted to rent The Grand Hall space for a restaurant, Hagedorn said, but couldn’t find a restaurateur willing to occupy such a large space. Retail uses also were considered for the space.

Then McKenzie, who was serving as retail relations manager for the Power & Light Apartments, took the lead in transforming the space into an event venue.

“Nicholle has done a superb job, and I am really proud of her,” Hagedorn said. “Nicholle was on the multifamily side of our business, and she saw a need for us to figure out what to do with the (Grand Hall) space. She researched the business, put together a business plan and then put the whole marketing, construction and design budget together to create The Grand Hall at Power & Light. She made the case for us to invest $2 million into the facility, which we believe is the premier event space in Kansas City.”

Work on the project began in August, a month after the grand opening celebration for the Power & Light Apartments.

There were plenty of existing attractions to start with: the original brass lanterns, travertine floors, marble columns and gilded plaster ceiling beams — all tied together with extravagant Art Deco detailing.

But there also was plenty to do. Under McKenzie’s supervision, NorthPoint added a built-in bar on the main level and two custom-built mobile bars on the mezzanine, restrooms Zelda Fitzgerald and Jay Gatsby would be proud to use, a catering kitchen, lavishly appointed bridal and groom’s suites, extensive audio-visual capabilities, new mezzanine carpeting, and lots of furniture that was custom-designed to mesh with the space’s classic feel.

McKenzie said Erin Lowery of Lowery Design Group turned in a brilliant encore performance as interior designer for The Grand Hall project, having served in that capacity for the luxury apartments in the tower.

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