By John Sharp
Both construction and leasing at the Blue River Commerce Center industrial park being built on the site of the former Bannister Federal Complex are progressing rapidly, Brian Benjamin, NorthPoint Development project manager for the Commerce Center, told the October 11 meeting of the South Kansas City Alliance (SKCA).
NorthPoint Development is the developer and manager of the Commerce Center.
Benjamin explained the first new industrial building just east of Troost on the site has been completed, and a temporary tenant already has begun operations in the building. He said he expects the entire building to be fully leased to long-term tenants by the end of October.
“We have always believed in the fundamentals of this redevelopment site with excellent transportation infrastructure including rail access. It’s great to see that our prospective tenants are starting to see that now with the substantial increase in leasing activity this fall,” he said in an interview following the meeting.
He said at the SKCA meeting that vertical construction of the second much larger industrial building on the site is already underway, and he hopes the building will be fully enclosed before winter sets in so it can open in early spring. He noted it will contain new offices for the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
In the interview, Benjamin said the building also will contain about a 5,000 square foot workforce training and development center to train area residents for the jobs that will be coming to the Commerce Center. He said it will include a large meeting room that will be able to accommodate about 100 persons that also will be made available for community meetings.
Benjamin said at the meeting that he expects construction to start in 2022 for three more industrial buildings at the site, and he believes all seven planned industrial buildings at the site which will contain about 2.5 million square feet of space will be completed in the next few years.
Although the number of employees at the Commerce Center when it is fully developed will depend on the type of tenants it attracts since uses such as light manufacturing are expected to need many more employees than warehousing, Benjamin said in the interview that he expects there eventually will be about 1,500 employees at the Center which he noted is a conservative estimate.