By LESLIE COLLINS
December 4, 2013
“The city is on a roll. I think it has a lot to do with the personality and the energy that Mayor (Sly) James is bringing to the conversation about the city, raising our profile both nationally and internationally,” Kansas City City Manager Troy Schulte said during the Nov. 19 Northeast Industrial Association (NEIA) luncheon.
Schulte listed a host of positives for Kansas City, including breaking ground on the new East Patrol/Crime Lab facility, $200 million worth of private development occurring East of Troost, breaking ground on the city’s new maintenance facility at 3rd and Cherry, the streetcar line and the Beacon Hill project which includes a 30-unit apartment complex and 15 single family homes priced around $300,000. Those homes are selling before they’re even constructed, he said. Adding to the momentum is the $30.3 million University of Missouri-Kansas City student housing project which is set to open by next fall.
Another positive, he said, is that companies are relocating to the Northeast industrial area, wanting to purchase property or sign long-term leases. Next spring, the city will break ground on its universal floodwater detention program, an initiative that’s been a priority of NEIA for years, he said. The design work is now complete and the city is working to resolve property acquisition issues, he said. Schulte said he expects the city to go out on bids by the end of January.
“Our airport has been a controversial conversation. People either love it or hate it,” Schulte said.
The Kansas City International Airport (KCI) was built in 1968 as TWA’s world hub, and the 45-year-old airport is showing wear and tear, Schulte said.
If Kansas City were to repair the airport, it would cost around $600 million, he said. Those repairs would include rebuilding garages, road construction, repairing concrete inside the structure, among other repairs. Kansas City must also address the environmental issue of the disposal and storage of its deicing fluid.
Another dilemma is that KCI features 90 gates, but the airport only needs 40 gates for current needs.
“It’s overbuilt, so we’ve got to figure out what to do long-term with that facility while still making it an attractive place,” he said.
To further save money, KCI will fully close Terminal A by March of 2014.
As for creating a single terminal, Schulte said the city is considering all of its options and that the single terminal concept isn’t set in stone.
Kansas City is still vying to host the 2016 Republican Convention, Schulte said, and is being “aggressive” in its effort. By hosting not only the MLB All-Star Game but also the MLS All-Star Game, Kansas City has proved it can host big name events, he said. To further increase its chances of being chosen, the city is pushing to develop a new downtown hotel. A new downtown hotel hasn’t been built since 1985, he said. Hosting the convention would require about 15,000 hotel rooms in the area, he said, and could have an economic impact between $200 million and $250 million.
Schulte wants OPM (Other People’s Money), he said.
“That’s a nice way to add to the vitality of the city to get people to come in,” Schulte said.
As for competing against Las Vegas for the convention, Schulte thinks Kansas City still has a good shot.
“It may be too much temptation to put 12,000 Republicans in Vegas for a week,” he said.
Schulte summed up his presentation, saying, “There’s a lot of good things going on. I’m pretty proud of our city.”