The AECOM-led KCI Partnership, the runner-up behind Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate during this year’s bidding process for a new KCI terminal, said Friday that it’s ready to do work on the $1 billion project.
“There is no time for delay,” KCI Partnership said in a statement. “We anxiously await the next steps required by the City Council to advance this project expeditiously.”
The KCI Partnership statement comes one day after a supermajority of the Kansas City Council rejected a proposed memorandum of understanding between the city and Edgemoor. Council members voting against the MOU said that the terms were too vague, it lacked a financing framework and it had insufficient commitments to minority hiring and community benefits.
The City Council is expected next week to consider a resolution to cut off negotiations with Edgemoor.
But how that debate occurs remains uncertain.
Mayor Sly James issued a statement Friday saying he wanted the resolution to be considered by the council’s Airport Committee next Thursday. The mayor said he knew that some council members want it considered by the entire 13-member council as a “committee of the whole,” but he completely disagreed with that approach.
The mayor’s statement was a scathing critique of how events unfolded on Thursday. He said that if the Airport Committee had been given more time to address concerns and modify the agreement with Edgemoor, “then we might have avoided yesterday’s shocking turn of events, which now puts the project in a precarious position and calls into question Council’s commitment to the will of the voters.”
The voters overwhelmingly supported a new terminal at KCI in the November election, but how that terminal gets developed was left up to the city council to determine.
James said he’s worked for more than six years on the airport improvement project.
“The behavior I have seen over the past week with regard to the MOU is not reflective of the collaborative spirit and results-oriented style I’ve focused on since taking office. We are better than this, and our residents deserve much more,” he said.
The mayor said Thursday’s vote “halted a negotiation midstream and tossed it out the window with little warning. That says to Kansas Citians that their will is less important than political agendas. And it sends a message to those who want to do business with Kansas City that we cannot be relied upon as a transparent partner.”
The mayor urged his colleagues to come together in a more collaborative approach. If they cannot, he warned, “our city will face severe consequences that will extend beyond the new terminal and beyond this political cycle, if we don’t move forward with professionalism and respect.”
But some council members, led by Councilman Lee Barnes, prefer the AECOM-led KCI Partnership.
KCI Partnership said Friday its commitment to Kansas City “never wavered” and includes promises of a financial proposal that’s fair to Kansas City, a commitment to the city’s minority and organized labor community and a partnership with airlines.
“KCI Partnership is 100 percent ready to partner with Kansas City and the airlines on the development of a world class airport,” KCI Partnership said.
Southwest Airlines, the dominant airline serving KCI, was monitoring the events of the last 24 hours.
“The only thing I could really say at this early stage is that we hope to learn what actions the City will now take to quickly identify the issues so it doesn’t slow down the delivery of the new terminal the voters have asked for,” Southwest spokeswoman Beth Harbin said in a statement.
Geoffrey Stricker, managing director of Edgemoor, declined to discuss KCI Partnership’s statement.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on competitors and their views,” Stricker said Friday. “We’re working hard on the project and look forward to sitting down with all stakeholders and having productive conversations.”