October 9, 2013

Council committee endorses $4.3 billion Cerner development at Bannister site

An ambitious plan to build what would be the biggest office development in Kansas City history is expected to receive full council approval Thursday. Cerner is proposing a 4.5 million-square-foot campus on the site of the former Bannister Mall.

An ambitious plan by Cerner Corp. to build what would be the biggest office development in Kansas City history was endorsed Wednesday by a Kansas City Council committee and is expected to receive full council approval today.

Cerner is proposing a 4.5 million-square-foot campus that would be developed in 14 phases over the next 10 years on the site of the former Bannister Mall at Interstate 435 and Bannister Road.

The fast-growing health care technology company, which recently opened an office campus at Village West in western Wyandotte County, expects to create 15,000 jobs at what’s called the Three Trails Crossing development when it’s completed.

The company’s request for tax incentives to help pay for the estimated $4.3 billion project won the unanimous support of the Council Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee.

“We are trying to raise the bar in this part of the city and provide the city with a jewel,” Brian Irwin, Cerner director of properties, told the committee.

When completed in 2024, the development would include 11 office buildings totaling more than 4 million square feet, a 75,000-square-foot “Cerner Kids” day-care center, two data centers, a service center and 370,000 square feet of retail. The office buildings would range from five to 11 stories.

“Cerner has proven over and over again it’s a good corporate citizen, and I’m pleased it’s moving forward,” said Kansas City Councilman John Sharp.

The redevelopment plan for the Cerner campus calls for 38 percent of the cost to be reimbursed by future tax revenues generated by the project. The total amount of incentives is $1.63 billion. The breakdown: $740 million in tax-increment financing; $288.6 million in Super TIF; and $606 million from a state supplemental TIF.

Local and state governments would still net $446 million in payments in lieu of taxes over the 23-year life of the TIF Plan.

The Cerner redevelopment deal also would provide an additional $6 million to assist the Hickman Mills School District and $2 million to support redevelopment in the nearby neighborhood.

“We are happy today and in full support of this project,” said Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of the South Kansas City Alliance, an umbrella organization for neighborhood groups.

The development also would be expected to provide jobs for 2,800 construction workers with an estimated payroll of $203.7 million through all 14 phases.

Should the council approve the redevelopment plan as expected, Cerner plans to close on its acquisition of the 251-acre site by the end of the year. Some demolition is expected to begin before then, and the first office building construction is expected to begin next year.

Cerner’s growth has been accelerating in recent years, and the firm now employs 9,000 people in the metropolitan area, part of a global workforce of 13,000 employees.

The health care information technology company has products licensed by about 10,000 hospitals, doctors’ offices, medical laboratories, ambulatory centers, pharmacies and other facilities in the U.S. and abroad.

The firm’s office project in western Wyandotte County is expected to accommodate 4,000 new employees over the next couple of years.

Its other major facilities are the headquarters campus in North Kansas City and an operation in the former Marion Labs complex near the proposed Three Trails development.

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