The last federal agency in need of a new home as the clock winds down at the Bannister Federal Complex has decided to stay in Kansas City, officials said Wednesday.
By KEVIN COLLISON
The Kansas City Star
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which provides sophisticated equipment repairs for the National Weather Service at Bannister, plans to find a new location in Kansas City by the time the former World War II defense plant closes at the end of next year.
While far from the largest federal agency being relocated from Bannister, its 83 employees are considered highly skilled and well paid, and local officials had worked with the area congressional delegation to keep the NOAA operation here.
“We’ve had a bipartisan effort,” said Jason Klumb, regional administrator for the federal General Services Administration. “Both U.S. senators worked in concert with Congressman (Emanuel) Cleaver and with the City Council led by Cindy Circo.”
The lucrative facility could have been consolidated with other NOAA operations around the country or the work contracted out, but the lobbying by local leaders helped convince top officials in Washington to keep it here.
“It’s a reminder the Kansas City metro is an attractive place to do business,” Klumb said.
The NOAA operation currently occupies about 315,000 square feet in the massive Bannister plant in south Kansas City. The agency will be searching for a new facility with 225,767 square feet of space, according to the GSA, the federal government’s landlord agency.
The agency’s staff supports the National Weather Service by providing parts and repairing sophisticated weather, computer and radar equipment shipped here from all over the world. The operation is officially known as the National Logistic Support and Reconditioning Centers.
Agency officials said they would like to be in their new space by October 2015.
“I am pleased to announce the great news that our National Logistic Support and Reconditioning Centers will remain in Kansas City,” said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service.
“After an exhaustive nationwide review of all available options, we determined that Kansas City best meets our mission effectiveness and the needs of our valued employees.”
The decision by NOAA to remain in Kansas City means every federal agency that had been housed at the 5.1 million-square-foot Bannister Federal Complex is remaining in the city. The plant opened in 1943, and its original mission was manufacturing warplane engines.
The first agency to relocate from Bannister was the Internal Revenue Service, which moved into its new 1.14 million-square-foot facility on West Pershing Road near Union Station in 2006. It was followed in 2009 by the regional office of the National Archives.
The nuclear weapons parts plant operated by Honeywell for the National Nuclear Security Administration is relocating its operation at Bannister to the new National Security Campus at Missouri 150 and Botts Road. That move is expected to be complete this summer.
Late last year, the GSA announced it will move its 900 employees from Bannister to Two Pershing Square, an office building near Union Station. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is relocating its operation to a new building going up at the CenterPoint -Kansas City Southern Intermodal Center.
And last summer, the Marine Corps announced it will keep its 400-employee information technology center at 2306 E. Bannister Road next to the Bannister Federal Complex. At the time, Sen. Claire McCaskill said the decision could lead to hundreds of additional jobs at the facility.
CenterPoint Properties has an agreement with the federal government to redevelop the Bannister property. The current schedule calls for demolition and environmental cleanup to begin by early 2016. The property is expected to be ready for redevelopment in mid to late 2017.
“The Bannister Federal Complex has had 70 years of service to our country,” Klumb said. “We look forward to its transition to a private developer, and we at the GSA along with others are pleased the federal agencies at Bannister are remaining in the Kansas City metro.”