Government & Politics

Edgemoor started out ranked No. 3 by advisers to the KCI committee, then rose to the top

Advisers to the KCI selection committee initially ranked Edgemoor third among four proposers for the airport terminal project before the company emerged as the committee’s top choice in the weeks that followed.

Kansas City Councilman Jermaine Reed, one of the six members on the committee, confirmed that the team of advisers first ranked the AECOM KCI Partnership at the top followed by the Burns & McDonnell KCI Hometown Team.

Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate followed at third and Jones Lang LaSalle fourth. That initial ranking occurred on Aug. 14, the day that all four teams made presentations to the KCI selection committee at an office building at KCI.

The AECOM-led KCI Partnership on Tuesday said in a statement, “We are not surprised that in reviewing the RFQ/P responses and hearing the presentations that the expert and professional staff concluded we were the number one ranked team.”

Tuesday’s disclosure illustrates the often-changing dynamic of the evaluations of the proposals for the KCI project. If Edgemoor can’t reach an agreement with the Kansas City Council, AECOM could still be in play. There’s disagreement about whether the city can negotiate with AECOM directly if it can’t reach a deal with Edgemoor, or if the city has to start the whole process over.

Reed said that Edgemoor rose to the top after weeks of deliberations, follow-up questions with the proposers and further consultation with the advisers. The advisers included financial advice from Ameritas, legal advice from law firm Husch Blackwell and input from airlines representatives.

“From our evaluation process, the financing, the experience, the project approach were attractive to us,” Reed said.

Jolie Justus, the other council member who was part of the selection committee, emphasized that the committee itself never ranked the proposals and eventually coalesced around Edgemoor as the recommended team to pursue the $1 billion project.

After a closed-door Kansas City Council meeting on Tuesday in City Manager Troy Schulte’s office, the city released documents that shed some light on the selection committee’s deliberations.

A comparison of AECOM KCI Partnership and Edgemoor highlights the top attributes for both teams’ proposals.

A memo describes the AECOM KCI Partnership as among the most experienced design and construction teams in the aviation industry, a track record of beating goals minority- and women-owned contractor participation in its projects elsewhere and its pledge for a $5 million loan guarantee program through Liberty Bank.

For Edgemoor, the document praised its team’s experience in aviation and public-private partnership projects, a detailed risk management plan, a plan for environmental sustainability and a “collaborative approach” with project stakeholders.

The memo doesn’t identify what put Edgemoor over the top.

“If you’re a fan of AECOM, you will think AECOM is better,” Justus said of the memo released on Tuesday. “If you’re a fan of Edgemoor, you will think Edgemoor is better.”

The comparison document detailing side-by-side characteristics of AECOM, Edgemoor and Burns & McDonnell’s plans offers some clues.

For example, it said that AECOM KCI Partnership had $80 billion in aviation experience as the lead designer, followed by Edgemoor with about $60 billion and Burns & McDonnell’s KCI Hometown Team with $12 billion.

Other details suggest that AECOM KCI Partnership had the deepest track record in aviation projects.

Edgemoor, however, pledged that it would close on financing for the project and begin construction on June 1, 2018, compared to KCI Partnership’s pledge to start construction on Feb. 15, 2019. Both firms said they could finish the project late in 2021.

Selection committee members have said previously that Edgemoor’s financial approach, which included an all-debt proposal, coupled with an open-ended approach to the design of the terminal, were appealing.

They also liked Edgemoor’s low-profile during the selection process, compared the Burns & McDonnell’s and AECOM’s public relations campaigns.

The comparison notes that the Burns & McDonnell team was not ranked in the final analysis. The selection committee and its advisers determined that Burns & McDonnell could not be advanced because of flaws with its financial approach to the project; Burns & McDonnell disputes the committee’s conclusions.

A group of Missouri General Assembly legislators from the Kansas City area put out a statement on Tuesday lamenting how Burns & McDonnell was removed from consideration for the terminal project.

Burns& McDonnell's attorneys explain why the company's proposal for KCI terminal — which was disqualified by the city's selection committee — is the only one of three that complies with Missouri law. They called on City Council to bypass the selec

Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, said under Kansas City’s procurement code all submissions “shall be ranked.”

“One of the first things you learn when dealing with the law is that ‘shall’ is absolute,” Silvey said in a statement. “Based on what I have read, it appears the process did not follow procurement laws in place for the city or the State of Missouri, as neither has the option of ‘disqualification’ or ‘fail to advance.’”

The same statement also questioned whether Edgemoor’s proposal meets tenets of the Missouri constitution.

Sen. Jason Holsman, a Kansas City Democrat whose district includes Burns & McDonnell’s headquarters, called for the Kansas City Council to “remove the artificial obstacles impeding their selection as the design team of choice for Kansas City.”

So far, however, no one on the city council is publicly agreeing to the idea of bringing Burns & McDonnell back into the fold.