South KC Perspective
City Looks Toward April 4 Ballot for Bond Proposal
By John Sharp
The more than 200 people who attended the third annual South Kansas City Alliance (SKCA) Economic Development Summit at Avila University on October 8 heard more positive news about the growth of businesses and jobs in south Kansas City.
Cerner Corporation employees should start to move in to its new Innovations Campus at the site of the former Bannister Mall in January, and the first two office towers on the Campus should be filled in the first quarter of 2017, said Liz Thiel, Cerner Senior Director of Workforce Architecture.
Speaking on a Breaking News panel, Thiel said in 2015 Cerner contracted with twice as many clients as in previous years and secured a major contract with the Defense Department to implement electronic medical records.
She said Cerner has roughly 12,000 employees in the Kansas City metropolitan area, and she sees a great potential for Cerner employees who work at the Innovations Campus to live in the south Kansas City area.
The favorable reception for economic growth developers have received in south Kansas City was mentioned by several panelists as a positive factor that encouraged their investments in our area.
“We look at transportation access, the area labor profile and where capital investment is welcome,” said Brent Miles, North Point Development Vice President, whose company is developing the Three Trails Industrial Park on the south side of 87th Street just east of U.S. 71 Highway.
“We went to a South Kansas City Alliance meeting, got a welcome reception, and people asked when the project would start,” Miles said. “It seems like you have a unified vision and voice. There just isn’t that kind of voice in other parts of the Kansas City metropolitan area.”
Miles said his company is investing about $75 million in the Three Trails project and tenants will invest another $35 to $40 million. He said the project will be split about half and half between Class A manufacturing and distribution facilities and should create about 750 fulltime permanent jobs at its three buildings.
“Unlike what you hear in the debates, things are still made in the U.S. and in Kansas City,” Miles said.
Noting the importance of government investment in public infrastructure to attract development, Miles said his company never would have built the Three Trails project without the recent improvements to 87th Street.
He added that the nearby highly visible presence of the Police Department’s South Patrol Campus has been a great help in overcoming a perception of crime in the area.
South Kansas City’s welcoming attitude toward business growth also was cited by Dave Claflin who handles marketing for Legacy Development, the company developing new restaurants on the south side of Ward Parkway Shopping Center and redeveloping Truman Corners Shopping Center as Truman’s Marketplace.
“In no area have I found a more welcoming community. South Kansas City is open for business,” Claflin said.
He noted construction is now underway for four sit down restaurants at Ward Parkway, and the name of the fifth restaurant planned for the area should be announced very soon. He said there is still room for two pad sites for additional restaurants at Truman’s Marketplace.
Perhaps no project is a better example of the importance of community support than the major renovation of Red Bridge Shopping Center that is now underway. Hundreds of community residents turned out for meetings about the project as it was first being discussed, many residents rode a bus to City Hall to support the project and hundreds more attended the ribbon cutting. Officials of Lane4 Property Group that is redeveloping the Center have repeatedly said that community support helped convince them to proceed with the project.
The major renovation of the center is well underway, and Brandon Buckley, Lane4 Property Group Vice President, said a former tenant, Euston Hardware, probably will be opening its new store at the center in January.
Discussing Burns & McDonnell’s new world headquarters building at the southwest corner of Ward Parkway and Wornall Road, Ron Coker, Burns & McDonnell Senior Vice President, noted the recently opened $75 million building has room for about 1,400 employees, and there is room on the site for another building that will be able to house another 700 employees.
Coker said it is important for communities to have stable neighborhoods with attractive housing, good schools and nearby retail and entertainment venues to attract job growth.
“Millennials focus on where they want to live and then look for nearby jobs,” Coker said.
The main speaker at the Summit was Kip Stetzler, Missouri Housing Development Commission Executive Director, who told a luncheon audience about his agency’s programs that furnish down payment assistance and help securing affordable fixed-rate mortgages for homebuyers, reduce homelessness by aiding families facing eviction, and provide tax credits for low income housing projects.
Also speaking was Dina Newman, UMKC Center for Neighborhoods Director, who described the free training programs for neighborhood leaders offered by the Center.
A summary of the results of the recent SKCA survey of Cerner employees about what kinds of retail services and what types of housing they desire near their place of employment was presented, as well as an accompanying study of existing retail services near the new Cerner Innovations Campus. That study showed there is a shortage of every category of retail services (except liquor stores) to even serve the needs of existing residents, let alone the thousands of Cerner employees coming to the area.
Attendees also heard panel discussions about what government resources are available to help persons start a business or housing project, and about the experiences of successful pioneers in commercial and residential urban redevelopment.
Leaf & Brush Collection
Two curbside leaf and brush collections for Kansas City residents who live south of 63rd Street will be from October 24 through 28 and again from November 28 through December 2 on persons’ regular trash day.
Residents may set out curbside up to 20 paper yard waste bags and/or bundles of branches that are not more than three inches in diameter.
The bags may be sealed by masking tape, not plastic or duct tape. No grass clippings or trash are allowed.
The bundles cannot be more than two feet in diameter, nor more than four feet long. They must be tied with twine, not wire of plastic tape.
Bags and bundles should be placed curbside by 7 a.m. If they are not collected on the scheduled trash day, residents must call the 3-1-1 Action Center within 24 hours.
City Ballot Issues
Kansas City, Mo., has three issues on the crowded November 8 ballot.
City Questions 1 and 2 seek voter approval to remove vacant property from the park system that the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners has determined is no longer needed so it can be sold. Question 1 concerns about 1.2 acres of vacant land between 23rd and 24th Streets west of Flora Avenue, and Question 2 concerns about 2.6 acres of vacant land south of Linwood Boulevard and east of Lister Avenue.
Voter approval is required in Kansas City to dispose of any park land.
Question 3 is Virginia resident Clay Chastain’s latest light rail proposal to fund (or fund as much as possible) the construction, operation and maintenance of a light rail system operating on its own right-or-way separated from traffic.
It proposes including a north/south line running from KCI Airport to the Cerner Innovations Campus at the former Bannister Mall site, and an east/west route running from Union Station to the Jackson County Sports Complex, with multiple stops in between on both routes. It also would include a fleet of electric mini-buses to transport passengers to and from the light rail stops.
This would be at least partially funded by a new 25-year one-eighth cent sales tax, a new 25-year one-fourth cent sales tax, taking the three-eighths cent sales tax currently used to fund the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) for 25 years beginning in 2024, and by any federal matching funds or other funds that might become available.
While I am a big supporter of streetcar, light rail and commuter rail passenger service (although I prefer commuter rail using existing under-utilized freight lines since it is so much cheaper per mile), it makes little sense to me to gut the funding for our bus system that thousands of people rely on every day to get to work to build the skeleton of a light rail system.
Parents Night Out – 6-11 p.m. Fridays, October 21, November 18, January 13 and February 17, Hillcrest Community Center, 10401 Hillcrest Road. These events are for children from 7 to 14 years of age and feature video and board games, arts and crafts, basketball, dodgeball and free pizza. There is a $10 charge for the first child and a $5 charge for each sibling.
Free Kids Carnival – 6-8 p.m. Friday, October 28, Hillcrest Community Center. The carnival is for children up to the 6th grade accompanied by an adult. It will feature carnival games, candy, prizes and a photo booth.
Awesome Art Classes – 6-7 p.m. beginning Thursday, November 3, and continuing for eight weeks. The design and craft fundamentals classes are for children from 5 to 11 years of age, and there is a $25 fee for the course.
South KC 5K Run/Walk & Kids Fun Run – 8 a.m. Saturday, November 5, 1310 E. 104th Street. This event sponsored by the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce features a scenic course through Blue River Park. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Community Assistance Council. Registration through November 3 is $30, $25 each for four or more team members, or $10 for the Kids Fun Run. Adult registration goes up $5 on the day of the event. Participants receive a tee shirt, backpack and finisher medal, and there are awards for the top three male and female finishers as well as age group awards. Persons may register at www.southkcchamber.com.