Cerner to buy, redevelop, old Bannister Mall site

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A once-thriving mall turned sprawling, blighted concrete desert will soon have a new role under a deal announced Thursday.

Healthcare technology company Cerner said it would buy 237 acres of the former Bannister Mall site near Interstate 435 in south Kansas City.

The company said it would build out the site to expand a nearby "innovation campus," and could bring as many as 12,000 to 15,000 jobs to the finished location.

"Cerner's significant growth necessitates that we plan now to accommodate our future space needs," Marc Naughton, Cerner's chief financial officer said in a statement.

The company, already one of the metro's largest employers, said in a press release that it expected the deal to be complete by the end of 2013, but not when it might break ground.

The project would also include retail, restaurant and hotel space as well -- a much needed shot in the arm for an area that has suffered since the mall closed in 2007 and was torn down in 2009.

"You've got a lot of interested people. You've got a lot of involvement," said Bonnaye Mims, who represents this district in Jefferson City.

That stands in contrast to previous deals-in-waiting here, including a scuttled plan to build a soccer stadium here, and open a Bass Pro Shop.

The difference this time around, Mims said, was more than $10 million in tax credits provided by the state of Missouri to get the deal done.

"When you have everybody that's saying 'do do do,' it's different when you see them sign it, and you know the money is on the table," Mims said.

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