South KC Perspective
Bannister Federal Complex Awaits Approval of Plans
By John Sharp
There’s a possibility, but perhaps not a probability, that funding for the transfer of the vacant Bannister Federal Complex to a private developer and subsequent demolition and cleanup at the site may be approved by the current “lame duck” session of the U.S. Congress.
Approval of funding federal operations is one thing this session of Congress has to deal with since currently approved funding only runs through December 9, former Kansas City U.S. Congressman Alan Wheat told a breakfast sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce November 10.
Wheat, now the Washington-based chair of the public policy practice of the Polsinelli law firm, said in response to my question that in order for the Bannister project to keep moving forward with no further delays funding would have to be included in an omnibus budget bill if one is passed in the “lame duck” session.
“I’m willing to bet they do funding for the entire fiscal year,” Wheat said, instead of just passing a shorter term spending bill.
The U.S. Senate passed legislation May 12 approving $200 million for the transfer of the site and cleanup costs by a vote of 90-8, but it has not been acted on by the House.
Kevin Breslin, an attorney representing CenterPoint Properties (the designated redeveloper of the Bannister site), told a South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting last month that CenterPoint hopes to have the transfer of the property completed by July or August 2017.
He said demolishing the buildings on the site will take about 18 months, followed by six or seven more months to remove subsurface utilities. He said CenterPoint intends to cleanup ground and ground water contamination after demolition is complete.
There is really no potential to reuse the existing structures, Breslin said, other than the newer facilities on the east end of the property that he said are being retained by the federal government and renovated to continue to house the Marine Corps data center.
He said the site should be ready for redevelopment about three and a half years after it is transferred to CenterPoint.
Breslin said CenterPoint envisions developing about 1.8 million square feet of industrial buildings on the approximately 250-acres being transferred to it. He added there are about 12 to 15 acres on the southwest portion of the site adjoining Bannister Road and Troost outside the flood wall that could be used for commercial and retail development.
He explained that CenterPoint hopes to restore direct rail access to the site from the Union Pacific main rail line that borders the property on the east. He said that would facilitate removal of demolition debris and contaminated soil from the site, eliminating 10-12,000 truckloads of such material, while the rail access would make the site more marketable to manufacturing and distribution companies.
“It normally takes about four years to develop this much space,” Breslin said, “but direct rail access could accelerate that.”