Former Councilman John Sharp gives a rundown on recent city council approval for new developments in South Kansas City.
South KC Perspectives
Jobs, New Construction on the Upswing in South Kansas City
By John Sharp
Economic development projects continue to blossom in south Kansas City, bringing good-paying jobs and new businesses to Martin City and surrounding areas.
The latest development is a proposed $10 million project by FishTech Labs to construct a two-story 20,000 square foot building at 13333 Holmes, the current site of a long vacant former bank building which will be demolished.
FishTech, a technology based startup company that will focus on developing next generation software, plans to invest about $8 million to construct its new building and about $2 million more in personal property, according to staff reports by city officials. This project will be one of the first buildings constructed since the establishment of the Martin City urban renewal area in 2009.
These reports note the company plans to employ about 48 persons at the facility with an average annual salary of approximately $119,000, including software architects and developers, security engineers, and administrative and sales positions.
An ordinance approving tax incentives for the project was scheduled to be heard by the City Council Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee December 9. [It was approved.]
This project follows on the heels of the approval by the City Council last month of tax incentives for a major expansion of the Midwest Mechanical Contractors facility at 13800 Wyandotte that will add about 42 new jobs with an average annual salary of about $94,000, according to city staff reports. The work, which has already begun, is expected to be completed by summer of 2016.
Sioux Chief at Richards Gebaur
And just last week, the City Council unanimously approved a development plan for Sioux Chief Manufacturing Company which intends to move its operations from Peculiar to an approximately 70-acre site in the northern portion of the former Richards Gebaur Air Force Base on the south side of 150 Highway.
The first phase of the project will include about 655,000 square feet of building space for industrial and office use, with a second phase containing about 434,000 square feet, according to city staff reports.
Sioux Chief, an American manufacturer of so-called “rough” plumbing products that are generally installed under counters or floors or behind walls, has informed the city it intends to employ between 300 and 400 employees at the site.
This project continues the rapid redevelopment of the northern portion of the old Air Force base and its vicinity. This already includes the CenterPoint-Kansas City Southern Intermodal Center where trailers are transferred from rail cars to trucks and vice versa, as well as the CenterPoint Intermodal Center industrial park and the National Nuclear Security Administration campus on the north side of 150 Highway.
The CenterPoint industrial park includes a distribution center for Walmart and facilities in another building for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, Universal Forest Products and Really Good Stuff (a school supply firm).
Another 450,000 square foot speculative industrial building at 14901 Andrews Road on the old base is nearing completion and should be “under roof” in a few weeks, according to Jim Cross, Senior Vice President for Development for CenterPoint Properties.
Cross said the firm’s newest building on the site should be completed in February or March, and the firm is in the process of seeking tenants.
Rapid Response Agreement
Two recent occurrences should further boost economic development prospects for the 150 Highway corridor and the old base.
First, Grandview and Kansas City are in the process of approving an automatic aid agreement for fire protection and emergency medical services that should improve emergency response times to this area. The agreement has been approved by the Grandview Board of Aldermen and is scheduled to be considered December 9 by the Neighborhoods & Public Safety Committee of the Kansas City Council.
Currently, the closest Kansas City Fire Department units are located at the fire station on Blue Ridge Extension in Martin City, too far away for rapid responses even in ideal conditions and also separated from the area by a busy at-grade railroad crossing.
Under the automatic aid agreement, the Kansas City Fire Department will dispatch both Grandview and Kansas City fire trucks and ambulances, and will send whichever unit can arrive the fastest.
Kansas City Fire Department dispatchers are trained in emergency medical dispatching and can give pre-arrival instructions to bystanders on emergency first aid measures they can take to save a patient’s life while awaiting the arrival of an ambulance or fire truck.
Honeywell Manufacturing & Technologies also has agreed to finance purchasing GPS equipment for Grandview Fire Department apparatuses so dispatchers know their location when being dispatched and can track their progress to the site of the emergency and alert them in case they take a wrong turn.
Widening of 155th St
Second, the Kansas City Public Improvements Advisory Committee, on which I serve, on December 4 recommended approximately $900,000 to widen and improve 155th Street from its intersection with I-49 into Richards Gebaur, thus providing adequate access from the highway to the heart of the old base, much of which has still not been redeveloped.
Design work for these improvements is nearly complete, and with City Council approval these additional funds should be enough to allow this project to go to bid this summer.