Government & Politics

With KCI votes counted, when will we see the wrecking ball?

After six years of wrangling over whether to build a single terminal at KCI, Kansas City Mayor Sly James on Wednesday sounded ready to get to work on the $1 billion project after voters the night before overwhelmingly approved it.

“Now we have to get to the work of getting it done,” James told a press gathering in City Manager Troy Schulte’s office on Wednesday.

But Terminal A, the mothballed building that will become the site of the new terminal building, won’t meet the wrecking ball for a while yet.

When will construction start, and when will the new terminal open?

Schulte said the plan right now is to break ground in the fall of 2018 and have a new terminal up and running by late 2021. He called the schedule “aggressive but doable.”

Why so long before the groundbreaking?

The first job facing City Hall is reaching an agreement, or a memorandum of understanding, with terminal developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate. Edgemoor was selected in September to design and build the terminal.

City leaders said Wednesday that no one should expect to see a proposed agreement come to the Kansas City Council before Nov. 30. The Thanksgiving holiday season is partly responsible for the scheduling, but James also acknowledged that some matters are still under negotiation with Edgemoor. He would not discuss the nature of those issues.

“You don’t want your business in the street,” James said.

Assuming an agreement is ratified by the end of 2017, there’s still a period of regulatory and due diligence ahead in preparation for construction.

Schulte said the city is looking at six to nine months for completion of various federal environmental and Federal Aviation Administration reviews.

That gives Edgemoor time to work out matters on its end.

When will the financing be set?

Geoffrey Stricker, managing partner of Edgemoor, said it will be midyear before his firm works out its financing, which will be an as-yet determined mix of private equity and conduit bonds that that will be issued through some public agency. Some of the financing decisions will be driven by the final size of the community benefits package.

Will traffic at KCI be a nightmare while construction is going on?

City aviation officials said plans have been made to alleviate traffic concerns.

Justin Meyer, deputy aviation director for the Kansas City Aviation Department, said construction traffic will be routed away from general traffic as it approaches the airport terminals.

From Cookingham Drive, the roadway that approaches KCI west of Interstate 29, construction traffic will turn right at Paris Street, about a quarter of a mile before regular traffic enters the roundabout for the three terminals.

From Paris Street it will access the Terminal A construction site. Meyer said Cookingham Drive itself will be altered to keep traffic farther away from the construction site as passengers proceed to terminals B and C.

What happens with Terminal B and Terminal C after the new terminal opens up?

Terminal B and C will operate as they do now while construction is going on. The current plan is to eventually demolish Terminal B. In its place, parking and possibly a deicing area is planned. The city will keep the Terminal B parking garage and use it for employee parking at KCI. Meyer said the city now buses those employees from a parking lot to the terminals at a cost of roughly $1 million a year.

Meyer said it’s not certain yet about what will happen with Terminal C. Terminal C has the newest parking garage, and the plan is to keep it for valet parking or some other purpose.

Listen: Deep Background podcast

Kansas City voters approve single terminal at KCI | What have we learned from the KCI vote? Star reporters Bill Turque and Steve Vockrodt unwind the landslide victory of the terminal proposal for KCI — who won, who lost, and what it means for the future. Dave Helling of the Star's editorial board hosts.

Listen to past episodes here or subscribe on your favorite podcasting app.

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt

Bill Turque: 816-234-4259, @bturque