KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The KCI Terminal Development selection committee recommends Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate LLC to the City Council as the preferred development team to design, build, and finance a new single terminal at Kansas City International Airport.
.@KCIAirport Update: Selection Committee final recommendation is here: Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate LLC.
— Jermaine Reed (@JermaineReed) September 6, 2017
According to a news release from the City of Kansas City, selection committee members are recommending Edgemoor due to its experience with high-profile airport projects nationwide, its collaborative approach to the design process, and a plan that would deliver the terminal at the best price. The Edgemoor team brings experience with more than $60 billion in aviation projects at 27 airports, according to the news release.
"This proposal, when it comes to financing, was frankly the lowest cost option to the city. It provided the most flexibility," Councilwoman Jolie Justus said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Justus added the Edgemoor proposal has the lowest cost and stands to gain the smallest profit of all the proposals. Project financing would be paid back with airport revenue, with no funds coming from the City's general fund. The City will continue to own the airport.
Four developers presented their proposals to the selection committee in mid-August. Edgemoor was the only company that did not release its plans to the public. City Manager Troy Schulte said the committee approached Edgemoor when other companies released their proposals, and the team said it would do whatever the city wanted.
"I appreciated that response because they knew who their customer was going to be," Schulte said.
He added that Edgemoor's decision to stay out of the public relations fray in which other companies engaged benefited the team in the long run.
According to a handout provided at Wednesday’s meeting, the selection committee’s decision came down to Edgemoor and AECOM.
The Burns & McDonnell proposal was eliminated after the city asked follow up questions. According to Wednesday’s handout, the city’s advisors determined the financial approach put forward by the KCI Hometown Team was “not consistent with the City’s Master Bond Ordinance requirements” and there did not “meet the City’s finance parameters for the Project.”
Additionally, the selection committee did not advance the JLL-led proposal because it was “non-responsive and deficient in providing required information in several key areas.”
Next, the City Council will be asked to vote to accept the recommended proposer.
"We have to get past feel, and we have to get back to facts," Councilman Quinton Lucas said of the process moving forward.
Lucas was referring to instances during Wednesday's announcement when members of the committee talked about their feelings about interactions with Edgemoor.
The council could reject the committee's recommendation altogether, which could mean a complete redo on the entire process.
"I want to do what's right for the city, so if this doesn't feel right, I wouldn't hesitate to say I'd rather not, I'd rather start over," Councilwoman Teresa Loar said.
If the council approves the recommendation, that will be followed by the negotiation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the preferred proposer, according to the news release. The MOU will require a vote by the City Council.
The news release says separately, the City Council has authorized a ballot question for the Nov. 7, 2017 election that will ask voters for approval to proceed with the terminal development project. A "yes" vote, with a simple majority, would provide approval to demolish existing terminals as needed, and approval for construction of a new single-terminal to serve the airport.
Conflict of interest claims tangle KCI design selection
On Tuesday, representatives from Burns & McDonnell said the company wants the city to restart the selection process due to an alleged personal relationship between another design proposer and a lawyer working with the city specifically on the KCI project. The company also wants the city to fire the lawyer.
“We are very upset to have learned about the existence of a personal relationship between the city’s outside legal consultant and one of the proposers,” said a statement from Mike Brown, vice president of Burns & McDonnell. “This information came to our attention over the weekend and necessitated our advisement to the city.”
Despite calls from Burns & McDonnell, members of the KCI bid selection committee told 41 Action News they plan to go ahead with an announcement of the winning bid.
Councilwoman Jolie Justus and Councilman Jermaine Reed said the issue raised by Burns & McDonnell is being considered by the city attorney, who will issue a written opinion. The committee plans to debrief the rest of City Council on the process at a special session Wednesday.
Lucas said after a decision is made, then the whole City Council can consider the concerns about conflicts of interest and decide if the bidding process should be redone. Neither Justus nor Reed said they could completely rule out the possibility of such an outcome.
A week prior, a conflict of interest complaint directed at Councilwoman Jolie Justus put a hold on deliberations.
The complaint filed with the city drew attention to the fact that the law firm Justus works for once did work for Burns & McDonnell. Soon after, the city ethics commission decided unanimously that there was not a conflict of interest.
“I wanted to make sure that any cloud that was lifted even if it is for political reasons be lifted and that we can move forward,” said Justus.
Justus heads the pro-bono arm of the firm she works for. That firm did a case for Burns & McDonnell four years ago, but Justus said she did not work on it.