KC Council Taps Under-the-Radar Team for $1B Airport Makeover
A team led by Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate, Bethesda, Md., on Sept. 6 won the recommendation of the City Council selection committee of Kansas City as the developer and designer of a $1-billion, single-terminal redevelopment of Kansas City International Airport.
Edgemoor beat out teams led by AECOM, Jones Lang LaSalle and local engineering firm Burns & McDonnell. The recommendation now will go to the full council for a vote and likely will be the design proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot that will ask Kansas City voters to approve a plan for KCI.
Edgemoor’s team includes Clark Construction, SOM, the Weitz Co. and local Kansas City general contractor Clarkson Construction.
The heated selection process saw an ethics complaint lodged against a member of the committee and a public relations battle that played out for much of the summer. It started in May, when Burns & McDonnell made an unsolicited proposal to Kansas City Mayor Sly James (I) to design and develop a new single terminal at KCI. The existing terminal, built in the 1970s, has long been considered a facility designed for a future that never came. When the council rejected a no-bid contract for Burns & McDonnell, AECOM, Edgemoor and JLL all submitted proposals in the new competitive bid process.
Burns & McDonnell’s KCI Hometown Team, which includes local general contractor JE Dunn, and AECOM’s KCI Partnership, which includes AECOM/Hunt, HOK, Populous, BNIM and Bob Berkebile, released details of their proposals and both regularly showed up in local media stories about the selection process.
After the drama, though, the selection committee said the Edgemoor team’s under-the-radar proposal provides the best deal for taxpayers.
When asked for details about how it would fund the project, Edgemoor Managing Director Geoffrey Stricker said, “We offered the city a flexible approach to financing—meaning, we presented several options that included both debt and equity.” He also noted that, in the coming months, a final financial structure will be agreed upon, based on financing costs, risk-transfer profile and cash flows, generated by the airport. He said construction could start next summer.
The selection committee said it eliminated Burns & McDonnell’s proposal earlier in the process because Kansas City’s bond counsel Kutak Rock raised concerns that the Burns & McDonnell finance plan would prioritize new private debt for the terminal project over the city’s existing debt from an early 2000s airport improvement.
Burns & McDonnell disputes that conclusion. The firm provided the city with a legal opinion from the bond counsel firm of Gilmore & Bell that said its proposal was compliant with Kansas City’s master bond ordinance, according to a press release. It alleges that the firm was not notified in a timely manner that its financing was non-compliant.
“This is a prime example as to why we believe the city, led by the City Council, must thoroughly review this process and make sure all proposers were properly considered,” said Mike Brown, a Burns & McDonnell vice president.