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Cerner breaks ground on $4.4 billion development at site of old Bannister Mall

Posted at 6:34 PM, Nov 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-12 20:45:25-05

A multi-billion dollar development kicked off in Kansas City Wednesday, marking the beginning of change for the old Bannister Mall site.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Kansas City Mayor Sly James and officials with Cerner Corp. broke ground on Cerner's The Trails Campus project.

Cerner is making a $4.45 billion investment in south Kansas City by developing the site that has been empty since 2007. It's expected to create up to 16,000 jobs within 10 years. In addition, Gov. Nixon said the project will generate 4500 construction jobs.

"As the largest economic development in Missouri history, this project is pivotal, and I'm proud that the ground is being broken right here in south Kansas City to make way for it," Mayor James said. "It's not only pivotal, it's catalytic."

For neighbors in the area, this has been a long frustrating journey.

"We had to see that decaying and no resources coming out of there," Darius Uche said.

Uche moved to his neighborhood, less than a quarter of a mile from Bannister Mall, 15 years ago with his wife and children.

"Bannister was in existence when they were very young, so we used to walk down there and do some shopping," he said.

But once the mall closed, many other businesses followed.

Gretchen Hall grew up going to Bannister Mall. She just moved back to the neighborhood with her children earlier this year.

"It feels so rundown," she said. "There's no place for the kids to go, you know, it just seems dead over here."

Many neighbors said they have gotten their hopes up in the past with other proposals for the space. There was talk of a Bass Pro Shop but it didn't happen. Neighbors got excited about the idea of a new soccer stadium for Sporting Kansas City. That ended up in Wyandotte County, Kan.

But Wednesday's groundbreaking on the Cerner project gives them hope that this area will not stay empty for long.

"Now that Cerner has decided to move into our neighborhood, we're very very glad," Uche said. "It will increase our property values as well as our economic value."

They hope it also means more business in the entire area.

"I'm happy that they're going to start building stuff but hopefully, when they start building, they realize they need more stuff like stores to get people coming," Hall said.

The Trails campus does include 370,000 square feet of retail space for shops, restaurants and a hotel.

The entire campus will be 4.7 million square feet. It's 16 buildings that will be done in 16 phases. The campus is projected to be complete in 2025.