By Paul Thompson
The City of Kansas City, Missouri’s Procurement Selection Committee has given the edge in the battle to construct a new billion-dollar single terminal at Kansas City International Airport to the proposer that offered the lowest cost, stands to gain the smallest profit, met the City’s significant requirements for local involvement, and has been involved in $60 billion worth of aviation projects at 27 airports.
After a lengthy process, Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate LLC was recommended by the committee on Wednesday, September 6 to lead construction of a new single terminal KCI. Now, all Edgemoor and the City have to do is earn the approval of the City Council, agree to terms on a memorandum of understanding, and flesh out enough details of a plan that’s currently akin to a rough draft to convince a majority of Kansas City voters to cast their ballots in favor of a new airport on November 7, 2017. In other words, the Edgemoor team has its work cut out for them.
That work began on Friday, September 8, when the Historic Northeast’s Clarkson Construction hosted its partners from the Edgemoor team for an introductory news conference. Though not the KCI Hometown team – Burns and McDonnell’s bid was disqualified from consideration – the Edgemoor group laid out a compelling case for why its team should appeal to Kansas City voters.
Bill Clarkson of Clarkson Construction opened the press conference with an explanation of why the local construction behemoth joined up with Edgemoor’s design-build partnership with Clark Construction and The Weitz Company.
“I knew after the first meeting that this could really be a good fit. We do have the same values; we’re both safety-conscious; we both give quality; community outreach is very important; inclusion of minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, local businesses if possible is important; that’s what Clarkson has done all these years,” Clarkson said. “So we knew we had a good fit, and the 20-plus meetings we’ve had since then with Edgemoor and with Clark has only cemented that.”
During the press conference, Edgemoor touted its past history of exceeding project goals in relation to minority-owned, women-owned, disadvantaged, and small business participation. A sleek packet presented to attendees features an impressive chart that details 17 projects – all with contract value in excess of $100 million – that easily met those goals. At the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, Edgemoor reached 26% Minority/Women/Disadvantaged/Small Local Business Enterprise (SBLE) participation despite a project goal of 0%. At Petco Park in San Diego, California, Edgemoor blew past the M/W/D/SLBE participation goal of 25%, reaching an actual participation figure of 90%. The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. (42% goal vs. 60% actual), the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington D.C. (15% vs. 39%), the FBI Field Office in San Diego (25% vs. 50%), and the McCormick Place West Building in Chicago, Illinois (50% vs. 88%) also stand out as examples of Edgemoor’s commitment to providing employment opportunities for underserved groups.
Both Clarkson and Edgemoor managing director Geoffrey Stricker indicated that they will likely exceed the high range of the participation goals requested by the City during the RFQ/P process.
“Our total on the design side – I believe if you add up the two high ends of the range between minorities and women it was 25% and we were at 29% on our proposal to the City,” Stricker said. “On construction when you add the two up it would be 27%, and we were at 35%.”
Clarkson Construction’s Steve Kellerman estimated that between 3,500 and 4,500 jobs would be created by construction alone if the billion-dollar airport project is approved by voters. Financing is expected to be concluded in June of 2018, and the Edgemoor team has set a goal of completing the project by 2021.
Bill Clarkson understands the role his company plays in this process, and that’s precisely why the introductory news conference was held at Clarkson headquarters in the East Bottoms. They are the Kansas City connection; the familiar name on construction equipment throughout the metropolitan area. What’s more, if this project is ultimately approved on November 7, Clarkson Construction will still call Kansas City home when the construction dust settles at the conclusion of the project.
“We’re going to be here long after the airport is built, so I want to make sure that if our stamp is on it, that it’s going to be a good, quality project,” Clarkson said.
The City Council also bears responsibility for the construction of a single terminal at KCI, and it is expected to consider the Selection Committee’s recommendation during its Thursday, September 21 legislative session. The Council will not hold a legislative session on September 14. While the body has shown a knack for coming together – the unanimous “unity vote” on the airport ballot language occurred less than a month ago, and the Council overcame substantial differences at the 11th hour to approve G.O. Bond ballot language earlier this year – it will have a lot to talk about on September 21.
“I’m happy that we at least have a selection, but I think we have more work to do,” said 3rd District Councilman Quinton Lucas after the September 6 recommendation. “We’re going to have to really buckle down to make sure this is the best choice for Kansas City and for the future.”
Lucas also stood by his prior criticism of the City’s airport RFQP process, including his suggestion on social media that Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway should look into the process.
“I think that’s absolutely appropriate; I think there were serious qualms with this process; qualms I continue to have,” Lucas said. “I stand by everything that I’ve written so far on it; a billion-dollar deal should not be done over the course of a few weeks, and that’s where we started at.”
Lucas added that he anticipates the Council coming together to approve the recommendation, saying that his concerns were of the “post-mortem” variety and shouldn’t hold up the process.
First District Councilman Scott Wagner suggested late last week that he was prepared to approved the Selection Committee’s recommendation during the September 7 legislative session, had it been the will of the Council.
“It is clear to me that perhaps not everyone shares my opinion,” Wagner said. “I think we’ve got to do some further work, honestly.”
Mayor Sly James called the Edgemoor recommendation a “win for Kansas City,” calling on the City Council to quickly approve the decision made by the Procurement Selection Committee.
“My priorities since day 1 have been a new single terminal, an experienced and collaborative partner and a financial deal that our city can be proud of,” James said. “The recommendation made by the committee makes these priorities possible. Edgemoor offers the city the best project for the cost, a record of positive labor relations, a deep level of experience on similar projects, and a commitment to local partnership for this generational project.”
More information about Edgemoor’s proposal, as well as those of the other teams, can be found at kcmo.gov/airport.