There’s a two-story fountain inside, with the tech to flash colors and images against the cascading water. Passengers will hear live jazz from a special performance space. A scalloped roof design pays homage to rolling hills and fields of wheat.
Designers of the proposed new single terminal at KCI, who showed preliminary drawings to the Kansas City Council Thursday, tried to touch the cultural bases of a city that values its music, food and livability.
City officials, for the most part, praised the renderings, saying they would help persuade voters to support the Nov. 7 ballot question on the $1.3 billion project.
“I think what we saw was the start of the world class airport that is reflective of this world class city,” said Mayor Sly James. “This is exactly what we’ve been needing and wanting.”
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Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, the council’s pick in September for the design and construction of the terminal, emphasized that this is only a first look. But it appears to reflect what the city and the airlines that serve KCI wanted when they negotiated an agreement two years ago on the design and financing of the project.
The H-shaped structure designed by SOM Architects, part of Edgemoor’s team, has two concourses with 35 gates able to handle the coming generation of large passenger jets. Passenger arrivals and departures are on separate levels, curbside service for both.
More plentiful parking is nearby. Both the pre-security spaces and gate areas are spacious and bathed in natural light. Gone are the multiple queues to go through TSA checkpoints. They would be replaced by one 12-lane set up.
There’s more and better food. The walks to gates will be longer, but there will also be people-movers.
“I think the design is stunning,” said Councilman Kevin McManus. “It says a lot just having the pictures in front of us.”
Edgemoor’s managing partner, Geoffrey Stricker, said the public will have an opportunity to give the company feedback. In November and December, he said, firm will hold meetings in each council district to solicit comment.
The images unveiled Thursday come as an answer to initial criticism of Edgemoor’s proposal, which didn’t include images of what the airport terminal would look like when a majority of the city council picked the company for the project. The architect, SOM Architects, is a well-regarded firm in the industry.
Edgemoor did encounter some bumpy air under questioning by council members. Some pressed managing partner Stricker for evidence that the company is making good on its commitment to meeting goals for hiring of local firms, especially those owned by minorities and women. He said the company was still interviewing potential subcontractors but had yet to make any hires.
“If you can’t agree to some of those things it’s going to be extremely difficult for me to think about moving forward with you as the developer.” said Councilman Lee Barnes, who opposed Edgemoor’s selection last month.
“You’re in the show-me state,” said Councilman Scott Taylor. “I’d like to see more concrete results than just meetings.”
Stricker also appeared to hedge on the company’s agreement to pursue “debt only” financing to build the terminal. The proposal to finance the terminal entirely with borrowed money was a major selling point for the city’s selection committee. Edgemoor and some city leaders believe it will cost less to borrow money than to repay private equity investors.
Stricker said that debt-only was “still on the table,” but added that there were “some issues we need to explore” with the Federal Aviation Administration involving community benefits the developer would provide. He did not elaborate. After the hearing, Stricker seemed to walk back the issue.
“If the city wants a debt-only solution were comfortable implementing it,” he said.