Government & Politics

Councilmembers not set on KCI vote: Trouble for Edgemoor?

KCI proposals by the numbers

Here's an example of what the Kansas City International Airport selection committee had to sift through to decide on a developer for a new KCI.
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Here's an example of what the Kansas City International Airport selection committee had to sift through to decide on a developer for a new KCI.

The Kansas City Council’s decision on a builder for the new KCI terminal, set for a vote Thursday afternoon, appears to be going down to the wire.

Interviews with council members Tuesday and Wednesday revealed no consensus for Edgemoor, the choice of the city selection committee that vetted four prospective contractors for the $1 billion project.

“I think we will be making decisions on the elevator going to the council meeting,” said Councilwoman Teresa Loar.

“My vote is far from locked in,” said Councilman Quinton Lucas.

“Still doing due diligence,” said Councilwoman Heather Hall.

Elected officials sometimes know which way they’ll vote but hedge on their choice publicly, out of caution or strategy. But the lack of consensus on Edgemoor, with less than 24 hours left, also seems to reflect genuine uncertainty about which company’s proposal would be best.

The picture got muddier Tuesday when one of the six selection team members, Councilman Jermaine Reed, revealed that legal and financial advisers to the panel initially ranked Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate third, behind Burns & McDonnell and first-place AECOM. Jones Lang LaSalle was fourth. The rankings were made on Aug. 14, when all four teams made their presentations.

After two weeks of deliberation and follow-up queries, Edgemoor emerged as the choice. But the committee, which included City Manager Troy Schulte, Councilwoman Jolie Justus and three other city officials, never produced a numerical score or took a vote.

If Edgemoor is approved by the full council Thursday, city officials will begin negotiations with the firm on a document called a memorandum of understanding detailing exactly how the new terminal will be designed, built and financed.

The firm faces two major hurdles. On Thursday morning, city officials and Edgemoor executives will address a joint session of the council’s Airport and Government & Finance committees.

The combined panel is expected to vote on whether to approve Edgemoor and expedite the usual longer legislative process so that the council can vote Thursday afternoon.

If it reaches the council, the expedited proposal requires nine of 13 votes, rather than the usual 7.

“They may not have them,” said Loar.

The council could also vote to scrap the entire search process and start over.

City officials plan a presentation to the joint committee distilling the selection panel’s decision to lean toward Edgemoor. They will cite the firm’s experience with airport projects and public-private ventures.

The firm also committed to the lowest-cost option of the bidders and the earliest start to construction. According to the briefing materials for the meeting, the city will refer to “the professional demeanor” of the Edgemoor team and “ability to work collegially with a wide range of stakeholders.”

There was also 11th-hour maneuvering Wednesday by firms that lost out to the Maryland-based developer. There were reports Wednesday that AECOM had approached Burns & McDonnell about adding the Kansas City-based firm and its subcontractors to its team. But Burns & McDonnell said it wasn’t interested.

Bill Turque: 816-234-4259, @bturque