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Airline agreement 'very close' as new KCI design stalls

Edgemoor waiting on FAA environmental assessment
Posted at 5:22 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 18:55:41-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Council members took a trip Thursday to the room where it happens, at least where the new terminal at KCI is concerned.

This week's airport committee meeting took place at Edgemoor's project headquarters, which are located in an old TWA commissary next to the airport.

"I wanted to have them, have the council get an opportunity to see these men and women who are working so hard and really making the magic happen," said Edgemoor Managing Director Geoffrey Stricker.

From construction management to community benefits and design, there are about 40 people working in the project office as the city anxiously awaits an agreement from the airlines.

"I don't have an announcement today, but I can tell you we are very close," Aviation Director Pat Klein told council members.

Meanwhile, the KCI-Edgemoor team is still waiting for the FAA to approve the environmental assessment for the project. It is being reviewed by the agency's attorneys and will then have to move through four departments.

Stricker said that process is holding up further design work.

"We're about 10 or 15 percent. We finished conceptual design, and we can't move forward to schematic design until the EA is approved," he said.

Stricker added completing no more than that amount of design was the guidance the FAA provided for the EA.

A spokeswoman for the agency said the FAA does not set a hard and fast percentage of design that can be done, but firms should not go too far in case an issue arises.

"We advise that the firms not take the design to final because the EA may show that some changes have to be made," wrote FAA Spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory.

A memorandum of understanding between Edgemoor and the city that was signed last February stipulated 30 percent design would be needed for more detailed cost information, which would guide use and lease agreements with the airlines.

However, Aviation Director Pat Klein said they have been able to move forward at only 10 percent because of heavy airline involvement and the two cost analyses already completed at the request of carriers. Under the current schedule, the design should be 60 percent complete in July and 90 percent by the end of the year.

Edgemoor's guaranteed maximum price for the new terminal is $1.48 billion, which does not include the cost to finance.

On Thursday, the airport committee tabled several ordinances related to the financing of the terminal. One concerns a $48 million loan to pay for work during the gap between financial close and when bond revenue comes in. According to Airport Committe Chair Jolie Justus, talks are underway to make sure that money comes out of the aviation fund, not taxpayer dollars.