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After years of cleanup, new development idea surfaces at Bannister Federal Complex

The expansive Bannister Federal Complex near Troost Avenue and Bannister Road includes buildings that were used for decades by workers making parts for nuclear weapons. This aerial view looks northwest.
The expansive Bannister Federal Complex near Troost Avenue and Bannister Road includes buildings that were used for decades by workers making parts for nuclear weapons. This aerial view looks northwest. The Kansas City Star

About four years after the last employees left the contaminated Bannister Federal Complex, long ago the site of Kansas City’s contribution to the World War II effort, a new proposal has surfaced to begin its redevelopment.

NorthPoint Development, a prodigious developer based in Riverside, is looking at a $135 million plan to build speculative warehouse space east of Bannister Road and Troost Avenue in south Kansas City. NorthPoint, the second largest privately-held commercial landlord in the United States with 70 million square feet under its control, discussed its plan on Monday during a meeting of the Port Authority of Kansas City.

If NorthPoint’s idea comes to fruition, it would represent the first redevelopment activity since federal employees left Bannister for downtown Kansas City in 2015 and the property was transferred to a private concern for environmental remediation.

Kevin Breslin, a principal with Bannister Transformation and Development, which received a $200 million contract from the federal government to clean up contamination at the complex, said significant progress has been made in four years to clean up the site.

About one-third of the 225 acre site is ready for redevelopment while the rest should be cleaned up in about a year, he said.

“It’s an enormous undertaking, and it’s a successful undertaking,” Breslin said.

The Bannister Federal Complex was built in the 1940s and 28,000 Kansas Citians worked three shifts to support the military effort underway in World War II. The National Nuclear Security Administration later had a plant there that manufactured non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons.

But the work at the complex left behind a stain of environmental contamination.

The NNSA plant was relocated to a new facility in 2014 at Missouri 150 and Botts Road near Grandview, and the rest of the Bannister Federal Complex was decommissioned by the federal government soon after.

The empty campus has been a scar in south Kansas City, a once-bustling stretch along Bannister Road that became deserted.

NorthPoint Development’s proposal envisions seven warehouse and distribution buildings totaling nearly 2.6 million square feet. It projects that as many as 1,500 people could work there.

No tenants have been announced, but NorthPoint is the landlord for companies big and small, local and national at various other distribution developments, ranging from Amazon to Boulevard Brewing Company.

NorthPoint’s presentation to the Port Authority on Monday was meant to inform commissioners of their plan, and no vote was taken. It’s anticipated that NorthPoint will request some form of assistance from the Port Authority.

Barnwell County's nuclear waste landfill has been leaking for decades, contaminating the groundwater and surrounding streams.

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Steve Vockrodt is an award-winning investigative journalist who has reported in Kansas City since 2005. Areas of reporting interest include business, politics, justice issues and breaking news investigations. Vockrodt grew up in Denver and studied journalism at the University of Kansas.
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