Bannister Federal Complex moves forward with closing

07/08/2014 10:52 AM

07/08/2014 8:41 PM

The Bannister Federal Complex’s last National Nuclear Security Administration occupants finished packing up Tuesday morning.

Honeywell’s non-nuclear weapons parts operation has taken up about 60 percent of the massive complex in south Kansas City. The federal General Services Administration still occupies most of the remaining space.

Frank Klotz, the Department of Energy’s undersecretary for nuclear security and administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, packed the symbolic last box before operations move completely to a new campus at Missouri 150 and Botts Road.

Klotz said his agency had “responsibility for maintaining a safe and secure nuclear arsenal, as the president called for us to do.”

“We also have a responsibility for helping prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and from nuclear materials from falling into the hands of would-be nuclear terrorists,” he said. “Those are our two very, very critical and enduring missions. In other words, we are going to be in this business for a very long time.”

Honeywell, which managed the Bannister complex for many years for the Department of Energy, also operates the new campus.

It’s critical to maintain the facilities that host that work, Klotz said. That can mean maintaining and repairing existing facilities or building a new building when maintenance is no longer a good business proposition.

To carry out the mission, he said, “we need very, very highly talented people — scientists, engineers, technicians, the whole range of people — who contribute to this mission. And we also need, if we’re going to have a high quality work force, we are going to need high quality spaces. So I’m particularly excited about the transition that you all have seen, planned and flawlessly executed.”

The move was a month ahead of schedule and $10 million under budget.

“It’s amazing to me,” said Mark Holecek, the Kansas City site office manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration. He’s helped with the transition since it began in January 2013. “Having been on the front end of this, and everything that could have gone wrong with it, for us to be a month ahead of schedule … ahead of budget.”

Klotz credited the success of the transition to preparation. Like doing maintenance on a plane while flying it, he said, workers had to keep up production while closing down the plant.

The old complex is set to be razed in 2016, and the Chicago area company CenterPoint Properties is in final negotiations to help redevelop the 5.1 million-square-foot space. No redevelopment plans have been set.

Holecek said it will take about two years to evaluate the property from engineering and environmental perspectives.

“The National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy are absolutely committed to making sure that this property gets turned back over to the citizens of Kansas City and the state of Missouri as quickly as we can, given the legal and financial protocols that we have to go through,” Klotz said.

Much of the infrastructure of the nuclear security enterprise overseen by the the agency dates back to World War II and the Manhattan Project, Klotz said.

The complex opened in 1942 to manufacture warplane engines for World War II. After the war, it was transformed into producing the majority of the non-nuclear parts for the United States’ national defense systems. Today, it produces or sources 85 percent of non-nuclear components for U.S. nuclear weapons.

Building the new facility created the opportunity to optimize working conditions, adopt new building practices and introduce new technology to make the plant more efficient.

Holecek said the new facility, which is privately owned, has already benefited the Kansas City community. Its construction created some 2,000 jobs.

To reach Molly Duffy, call 816-234-4072 or send email to mduffy@kcstar.com.

Honeywell move at a glance

130 move phases completed

42 manufacturing departments consolidated into 13

1 month ahead of schedule

$10 million under budget

$150 million in fiscal year 2015 savings compared with the old operational model

Source: National Security Campus

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