KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Members of the AECOM KCI Partnership team announced Monday they're adding Burns & McDonnell to their team in a renewed effort to build a new terminal at KCI.
The announcement comes after City Council voted down a memorandum of understanding with Edgemoor last week.
AECOM's proposal was ranked second by a selection committee earlier this fall, putting the firm next in line for the terminal.
"From day one this team has been trying to figure out who's a good partner in Kansas City," AECOM Senior Vice President Mike Handelman said during the news conference Monday.
That search led them to Burns & McDonnell, which earlier this year shot down rumors of a partnership with AECOM. At the time, the firm said it was standing by its "hometown" team, but now they're ready to join the KCI Partnership.
"There's only two firms the city is considering right now to do this project. I can tell you that KCI Partnership is the only one that reached out to Burns and Mac," Burns & McDonnell Senior Vice President Ron Coker said.
Black Chamber of Commerce President Kelvin Perry and leaders from several local unions were also at the news conference to support the team.
The KCI Partnership is promising a 100 percent union workforce, as well as 30-33 percent minority business participation. Their plan also includes $15 million in community benefits, as well as a KCI Legacy Fund that would provide $75 million over 30 years to MWBEs and small businesses.
While AECOM and Burns & McDonnell pursue the project, the city still hasn't broken up with its first choice, Edgemoor. Council members raised concerns last week about community benefits in the Edgemoor MOU, as well as a clause in the agreement that would charge the city $30 million if the project falls through.
Edgemoor Managing Director Geoff Stricker told 41 Action News he has been meeting with city leaders to iron out the issues.
"I think the voters gave a mandate, 75 percent, that we want a new terminal and we want Edgemoor to build it. This is our job, and we're looking forward to building it for the citizens of Kansas City," Stricker said.
To be clear Kansas City residents simply voted yes or no on a new terminal, not on the developer who would build it.
On Thursday the council's airport committee will meet to consider a resolution that recommends cutting ties with Edgemoor and beginning negotiations with the KCI Partnership.
On Monday afternoon Councilman Jermaine Reed released a statement warning against moving on from talks with Edgemoor, citing potential litigation as a consequence.
"We should be careful about the message we're sending to businesses when we say our City is open for business and that our procurement process is fair and transparent and then we engage in 11th-hour shenanigans with our business partners," Reed wrote.
Last week, Mayor Sly James said the vote on Edgemoor's MOU was “a political maneuver by a group of council members to get what they want.”
On Tuesday, James released a statement proposing the City Manager continue negotiations with Edgemoor and bring back a revised MOU for the City Council to consider.
The statement reads in full:
"For six-and-a-half years, we’ve enjoyed unprecedented levels of progress and momentum in Kansas City. I believe that is, in no small part, the result of confronting complex problems with thoughtful analysis, precise data, and a careful deliberative process. Unfortunately, the action last week on the MOU was the opposite of that.
My fear is that this miscalculation has not only undermined the airport project, but has also undermined the voters’ trust in our ability to lead. I won’t let that happen.
So let’s fix this. We are a city built on big ideas, bold action, and a commitment to getting things done. If we want to continue building on the momentum we’re enjoying, then let’s get this negotiation back on track.
I’m proposing that the City Manager continue engaging in good faith negotiations with Edgemoor and bring back a revised MOU for City Council consideration. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the City Manager must report back to the Council why an agreement could not be reached, and the process for selecting a developer will start over. At that point, I would propose that the process be open to the public.
Building an airport terminal is an enormous undertaking for a city. It’s a huge investment that will have lasting effects on the economic development of the city and region as a whole. A project of this magnitude takes good faith, communication and trust. And it takes leadership and commitment that I’m confident this City can provide.
I have a great deal of faith in the vision and wisdom of Kansas City voters. On Nov. 7, they demonstrated that they’re ready for a new airport terminal. They are asking us to lead this City, to set aside personal interests, and get our job done quickly so construction can start on schedule. We would be well-advised to heed their call.
Let’s build our new terminal."
The City Council could continue to work with Edgemoor, move on to AECOM or begin the procurement process from the beginning.