By Kevin Collison
A growing Kansas City Southern wants to explore a potential partnership with the city developing property next door slated for a proposed convention center garage.
Last week, the City Council agreed to purchase the so-called Carpenter site at 1200 Broadway for a planned garage.
The decision was supported by a top railroad official who raised the prospect of a public-private mixed-use project at the site.
“We have future expansion plans and we’d like to partner with the city with resources for more than a parking garage,” Warren Erdman, Kansas City Southern executive vice president, told Council members.
Erdman said the 130 year-old Kansas City-based railroad is experiencing robust growth and recently brought jobs here from Louisiana. It also bought its headquarters building at 427 W. 12th St. last year.
“We’re growing and the company is doing great,” he said. “Should the city move forward in acquiring the (Carpenter) property, we’d enjoy a partnership where we might develop something more than a parking lot.”
That’s exactly what Councilman Eric Bunch had in mind when he introduced a resolution that called for the city to develop something more appealing than just a garage at the strategic site stretching along the west side of Broadway across from Bartle Hall.
It called for any project to go through a public review process and to be of a “mixed-use nature, incorporating commercial, residential and/or retail use.”
Kansas City Southern opened its current six-story headquarters at the southeast corner of 12th and Washington in 2002. It was designed by BNIM architects, and the architectural firm’s webpage said a second building is envisioned for the property to the east.
But for many years, the Carpenter family refused to sell the land to private developers. That’s all changed now that the city has agreement to purchase the site.
Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, who introduced the ordinance to purchase the property, now a surface parking lot, for $5.45 million said the city would be open to discussing partnering with Kansas City Southern on a mixed-used deal.
In a follow-up message, Erdman said Kansas City Southern had no specific ideas or plans for the so-called Carpenter site, “just an expression of partnership and support.
“We’re just supportive of the city’s effort and would look forward to visiting with them and talking to them where there might by synergistic partnerships,” he said.
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