City plans business center: The aim is to leverage the airport's strategic location to attract jobs and industry.

Jun. 21--At the Paris Air Show this week, big companies such as Boeing and Airbus are grabbing the spotlight announcements of new multimillion-dollar manufacturing contracts. But they're not alone in using the global stage to tell the aviation...


Jun. 21--At the Paris Air Show this week, big companies such as Boeing and Airbus are grabbing the spotlight announcements of new multimillion-dollar manufacturing contracts.

But they're not alone in using the global stage to tell the aviation world about their business ventures.

A Kansas City delegation of economic development officials and city leaders that traveled to the world's largest international aviation and aerospace trade fair has unveiled a master plan for an 800-acre, multi-use development on Kansas City International Airport property.

City officials are calling the development the KCI Intermodal BusinessCentre and have spent the week showcasing it to the 250,000 manufacturers, suppliers and other business officials attending the air show, which will conclude Friday.

Members of the delegation think the project will generate more economic activity from the 8,000 vacant acres of airport property.

"This is the next step in our plan to leverage KCI's strategic location to attract jobs and industry to our community," said Kansas City Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Skaggs, who is part of the Kansas City delegation.

The development is aimed at attracting companies that need a central location to transfer goods being shipped across the country or around the world from truck to plane, or vice versa. The project also is focusing on various types of light industries and transportation-related businesses.

Last summer, the city picked Trammell Crow, the Dallas-based real estate development firm, as the master developer of the business center property, which will be built in two phases.

The first phase will be south of the American Airlines overhaul base and will front Prairie View Road and Interstate 29. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall. The initial phase will have seven buildings with a combined space of 2.7 million square feet.

No tenants have been signed, and officials did not give an estimated price tag for the development.

The second phase, west of the first one, will include 5,500 linear feet of frontage roads along the airport's runways and is expected to attract air cargo facilities, air freight logistic centers, light manufacturers and commercial distribution space.

Steven Bradford, Trammell Crow principal, said the business center had a strategic location that no other potential business center or industrial park site in the country could match.

Half of the site has direct access to the KCI airfield, he said, and there is easy access to Interstates 29 and 435.

"It's not just close to an airport," he said, "it's connected to one."

Airport officials said the facility site is in the middle of the country and in one of the nation's largest foreign trade zones, where companies can import parts and raw materials without paying costly duty taxes. The duty is paid only when the finished item is shipped out of the zone.

Trammell Crow is responsible for construction and finding tenants for the new buildings on the airport's behalf. The airport then will enter into ground leases with every business that locates there.

"That offers us tremendous flexibility with respect to planning and development," Bradford said.

The ground lease amounts will be based on size and acreage of the buildings, he said, so it is uncertain at this point how much money the development will generate for the airport.

The airport's ground lease with a developer that plans to build a motor sports park on 300 acres on the southwest side of the airfield is expected to net the city more than $27.5 million in the next 50 years.

Bradford also said the Intermodal BusinessCentre would complement, rather than compete with, the planned intermodal rail and trucking port at the former Richards-Gebaur Airport in south Kansas City.

"The emphasis is ground and air transportation, not rail," he said.

To reach Mike Rice, call 816-234-5903 or send e-mail to mrice@kcstar.com

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