By Kevin Collison
Kansas City Councilwoman Jolie Justus, a key player in the city’s effort to build a new airport terminal, said today an independent “sophisticated” poll commissioned by civic leaders found 55 percent of frequent voters support the project.
“The data shows the tide has turned,” Justus told a meeting of the Downtown Council board. “When asked the basic question do you support a new terminal or not, 55 percent of frequent voters said yes we do.
“I see a good chance it make it across the finish line in November.”
Justus, fresh from a tumultuous few weeks at City Hall during which four proposals for a new KCI terminal were reviewed, also said the plan submitted by the so-called “Home Town Team” led by local engineering giant Burns & McDonnell was the first one rejected by the selection committee.
“We thoroughly vetted all these proposals,” she said. “The unanimous advice from all our advisers was the Burns & McDonnell proposal was not consistent with our bond process.”
The Jones Lang LaSalle team was the second to be eliminated.
Instead, the committee is recommending that a team led by Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate be approved by the full City Council to pursue the project. Kansas City voters will have the final say, an election on the airport terminal plan is scheduled for Nov. 7.
The two finalists for the project were Edgemoor and a team led by LA-based AECOM, and Justus said Edgemoor swayed the panel because of the approach it took to financing, designing and building the proposed terminal.
“What pushed Edgemoor over the top was its financial proposal and project approach,” she said. “They did not come in with drawings, they said ‘you’re our client, we want you to be in the driver’s seat. We want to hear you.'”
The Edgemoor team includes Clark Construction Group, the Weitz Company and Clarkson Construction. The architect is SOM, formerly Skidmore Owings & Merrill, an international firm based in Chicago.
Justus said Edgemoor pitched a “debt-only” approach to building the airport, which she said means “more airport for the city, less profit for Edgemoor.”
She also said the firm pledged the largest participation rate by women- and minority-owned businesses, 35 percent for the project, and agreed to the 1 percent for public art program.
“They also want to build what could be the most energy-efficient airport in the world,” Justus added.
Justus said the firm knows the value of producing artwork of the proposed project to aid in the campaign to woo voters, and is working to produce images soon.
She said a consortium of top civic and business leaders already have held 80 community briefings, and plans to launch a broader campaign. Many participated in the city’s successful $800 million general obligation bond campaign earlier this year.
A new terminal at KCI will cost an estimated $1 billion, but its financing will be paid completely by fees generated by the airlines and passengers using the facility, not general taxpayers.