One Word for South KC in 2016: Revitalization
By Kathy Feist
Kansas City leads the nation in business growth according to data from Wendover Corporation, a national market research firm. And south Kansas City has certainly seen a large part of it.
New developments, expansions, reconstruction, road improvements, and repurposing has revitalized growth and jobs in the area. Over $300 million in private funds has been invested in the south Kansas City area, creating over 6,000 new jobs (not counting Cerner’s 16,000) according to an announcement made by City Councilman Scott Taylor at the 135th Street ribbon cutting in Martin City.
Much of this growth is attributed to Kansas City’s tax climate, diverse economy, capable workforce and fast internet speeds, according to the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
Any south Kansas City resident has witnessed the change. Only a year ago, Burns and McDonnell was being built at Bannister and Wornall, the Red Bridge Shopping Center was in a dilapidated state, and 135th Street was once again filled with orange cones. In a year’s time, the outcome of these three projects is both exciting and remarkable.
But that is only the tip of the iceberg. For our year-end review, we look at the developments that have taken place in south Kansas City, starting with the immediate area.
Red Bridge Shopping Center – Lane4 has invested $9 million in renovations in addition to the $4.4 million purchase. Euston Hardware, SERC Physical Therapy, Blue Bicycle Fitness Center expansion and a future restaurant have been added to the list of tenants.
135th Street Improvements – The Martin City Community Improvement District (CID) completed Phase II of its $3.25 million street construction, replacing the water mains, creating sidewalks with landscaping, adding a stoplight and repaving the road from Oak St. to Wornall Rd. The improvements effectively give Martin City an upgraded yet old town feel longed for by many a visitor.
FishTech Labs – Once the site of an abandoned bank building, the property at 13333 Holmes Rd. will soon be transformed into a futuristic $10 million facility. The award-winning cybersecurity company headed by Gary Fish will bring 50 new jobs to Martin City.
MMC Contractors – The national mechanical contractor company completed a $3 million expansion, doubling its current facility at 13800 Wyandotte St. in Martin City. The expansion brings 42 new jobs to the area.
DeVry University Building – After 50 years at 11224 Holmes Rd, DeVry University moved to another location off 104th & Holmes Rd. FEMA immediately announced it would be moving into the facility bringing 500 employees to the area in summer 2017.
Avila University’s Goppert Theater – In May, the university announced a gift of $3.5 million which will go toward a new $8 million performing arts center, creating new performance areas, rehearsal spaces and classrooms. The investment will also create a home for Theater for Young America and potentially increase the number of public performances from other arts organizations.
Martin Event Space – A $200,000 investment into the old Methodist Church at 135th & Holmes Rd. has created a stunning remodel called The Martin Event Space. An offshoot of the Martin City Brewing Company, whose own growth eliminated its facility as an event space, The Martin can hold 200 event guests for weddings, office parties or meetings. While a smaller investment than the rest featured in this article, the update is no less significant. Once a rundown carpet warehouse, the renovated space not only improves the town’s appearance but brings in new visitors to the highly invested area.
Kansas City Autism Training Center – In January 2016, the Red Bridge Christian Church, 10842 McGee, donated its $1.4 million facility to the Kansas City Autism Training Center currently operating out of a church basement located in Prairie Village. The school for children with developmental disabilities will now have space for its current 200 students with the opportunity for more. Plans are in the works for a Fall 2017 opening.
Watts Mill Village Shopping Center – Jasper Mirabile, Jr. and his brother Leonard gave their shopping strip at 103rd and State Line a $1.75 million face lift, creating an old world feel for the 50-year-old shopping center.
Ward Parkway Shopping Center – A $16 million, 22,000 square foot addition on the south end will create room for 5 restaurants amid a date-night outdoor courtyard setting. Completion is expected in Spring 2017.
Red Bridge Mid-Continent Library – With the passage of Proposition L in November, the Red Bridge Mid-Continent Library will see changes to its façade as well as interior space. Specifics are still being worked out, but an announcement should be forthcoming in early Spring.
Kingswood Senior Center – The senior living center at 10000 Wornall has invested $35 million into reconstructing and redesigning its current continuing care facility to include 100 new residents. This includes 11 new villas, 30 assisted care units and 23 new memory care units as well as updated amenities. The expansion will add 40 new jobs.
Burns and McDonnell – The four-story, 310,000 square foot building at the conjunction of Ward Parkway & Wornall Rd features a top floor event space, child care center, a pharmacy and a barista bar. The $85 million facility also houses 2,500 employees with room for 2,000 more in the next decade.
Sioux Chief Manufacturing – The manufacturer of innovative plumbing products is investing $40 million into a corner of the former Richards-Gebaur Airport, now known as the CenterPoint Intermodal Center off 150 Hwy. The facility will house 550 employees, 100 more than it currently employs at its offices in Grandview.
Gateway Village Sports Complex – The $300 million sports complex located off 150 Hwy and Byars Rd in Grandview, will comprise 240 acres filled with soccer fields, retail shops, hotels, office and residential space. It is expected to open in Spring 2017.
NorthPoint’s Three Trails Industrial Park – This 90-acre industrial park located along 87th Street between Hwys I-435 and 49, already has five tenants in its three newly constructed buildings: Boulevard Beer Distribution, Commonwealth, R. P. Richards, Rensen House Electric, and Shuttlewagon.
Cerner Trails Campus – Where Bannister Mall once stood, (I-435 and Bannister Rd.) the health IT giant Cerner will invest $4.5 billion to create a 290-acre campus consisting of 10 office buildings and employing16,000 associates over the next 10 years. Retail space is included in the plans.
Bannister Federal Complex – At the tail end of 2016, federal legislation passed that enabled CenterPoint Properties to demolish much of the Bannister Federal Complex and build a 1.8 million square feet industrial and distribution complex. The projected cost for demolition and clean up is $200 million. After some final details are approved, transfer of ownership should begin in August. The clean-up and demolition will employ 800 union workers. About 1000 permanent jobs will be brought to the area.