Government & Politics

KCI developer has plan to meet community donation promises that FAA rejected

KCI developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate will make good on a promise of $4.7 million in benefits to disadvantaged communities with a charitable contribution from its parent company, a senior executive said Thursday.

The Maryland-based firm had pledged to use anticipated revenues from the new airport terminal for a $28.2 million package of benefits to help low-income workers and other groups participate in the billion-dollar plus project.

The provision was crucial in securing a divided City Council’s approval of a memorandum of understanding that formally chose Edgemoor as the developer last February.

But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in July that some of the payments likely violated rules requiring that all airport revenues be used to directly benefit the terminal project. The agency cited about $14 million in planned contributions as an improper “diversion” of funds.

A chunk of those dollars — $8.9 million in workforce training for low-income workers, including former offenders — was subsequently reworked and restored to the benefits agreement.

But Edgemoor is still on the hook for $4.75 million to a group of nonprofits: $1 million to the Shared Success Fund, a city initiative providing gap financing to attract developers; $1.25 million to Love Thy Neighbor, a privately funded volunteer program to help senior citizens with home renovations; $1.5 million to the newly created Northland Fund for housing, economic development and mental health needs, and $1 million to the Historic Preservation Commission.

All donations can be cash, in-kind contributions or a combination of both, under the terms of the memorandum of understanding.

Edgemoor managing director Geoffrey Stricker said after the City Council’s weekly business session Thursday that the money would come from the firm’s parent company, Clark Construction.

“We make charitable contributions all over the country,” Stricker said. “Kansas City is very important to us.”

The arrangement was barely referred to at the meeting, which featured a briefing from its Washington-based airport counsel Robert Cohn.

When City Councilwoman Alissia Canady mentioned Clark, Mayor Sly James immediately squelched discussion.

“Don’t say that,” James said. “Probably not good to do it on TV.”

James declined to explain his reluctance to discuss the matter, given that Stricker spoke of it freely.

Asked after the meeting, James said: “It doesn’t need to be talked about. It starts up a whole problem.” He would not elaborate.

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