Mar. 11--The city is negotiating with Trammell Crow Co. to be master developer at Kansas City International Airport, an important step toward its long-sought aim of attracting new investment there.
"Our number one goal is to produce revenues," said Mark VanLoh, director of aviation. "Right now, we're raising cows."
A committee established by the Kansas City Aviation Department plans to submit an agreement soon to the Kansas City Council. It would name Trammell Crow, a Dallas-based real estate company with national and international operations, master developer of 640 acres of dormant airport property southeast of the runway complex.
Generating dramatically more economic activity from the 8,000 vacant acres the city owns around the airport has been a goal of City Manager Wayne Cauthen and Platte County development officials. A study released last year estimated that developing the entire airport property could produce thousands of new jobs in future years.
VanLoh said Trammell Crow was selected in January by an airport committee to negotiate a master developer agreement.
"Trammell Crow has experience all over the world and has done this kind of development at several major airports," he said.
"They will come back to us and tell us what we need to do with our infrastructure and roads, and then market it, and may do development on their own."
One project the city already has in mind is extending Tiffany Springs Parkway, which has an interchange at Interstate 29, farther west and make it the new front door to the development area, VanLoh said.
Steven Bradford, a principal at Trammell Crow who leads its airport development group, said his company is confident it can bring the same sorts of development to Kansas City's airport as it has at airports in Dallas, Houston, Portland, Ore., and, beginning next week, Calgary, Alberta, in Canada.
"We've built several million square feet," he said. "We feel the Kansas City airport is a great market opportunity that is not meeting its full potential, and we hope to change that."
Companies that like to locate near airports include international air cargo facilities, logistics firms, distribution facilities, light manufacturing and office users.
"We would be doing marketing and development with a focus on development," Bradford said. "It's our goal to bring projects to the airport."
City Councilman Bill Skaggs, chairman of the aviation committee, said an agreement with Trammell Crow would probably be approved by the full council.
Kansas City's central geographic location has been touted as an advantage by local development officials who want to promote the area for distribution facilities and associated industries.
"Trammell Crow is a great company," said Bob Marcusse, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council, which promotes economic development for the 18-county area.
"It would be extremely helpful to have a company like Trammell Crow in the area that brings with it extensive national and international contacts.
"If they are the developer, I think we've got exciting times ahead of us."
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Trammell Crow will make plans for 640 acres southeast of the airfield.
The focus is to use the airport's expansive real estate holdings -- 12.5 square miles, not its air service, as the primary engine for growth.
Kansas City International Airport officials want to make the airport less vulnerable to security breaches by replacing all door locks and keys with an automated card-access system.