CRE X Missouri

Can a new airport bring more businesses to Kansas City?

  

Kansas City government officials have high hopes for a newly designed, single-terminal airport serving their city. These officials say that a single-terminal building, which would replace the three-terminal set-up already in place at Kansas City International Airport, would attract a greater number of companies to the Kansas City, Missouri, market.

But before construction can begin at the airport, the public must vote, a vote that Kansas City government officials hope to hold sometime in November.

It’s unclear now whether the public supports any changes at the airport. Many travelers like the three-terminal design of the current airport. Because of this design, there are a greater number of security entrances scattered throughout the airport. This, supporters of the current airport say, means shorter wait times in security.

The current airport design, though, does come with challenges. There isn’t much space for restaurants and shops past the security checkpoints. Travelers, then, often have to go back through security if they want a sandwich or drink, not something that anyone enjoys.

The current design also restricts the number of direct flights to key national and international destinations.

This last point is key, said Ora Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of Kansas City real estate development company Hunt Midwest. Kansas City can attract even more companies and CRE development to the area if the Kansas City International Airport can deliver more non-stop, direct flights, Reynolds said.

“A new single terminal approach to the Kansas City International Airport will be a key driver for economic development in the region,” Reynolds said. “Corporate decisionmakers choose their real estate location based on logistics and the ease of getting everyone to and from their corporate headquarters and other key strategic locations.”

Reynolds said that many of the airlines serving Kansas City’s airport want to expand service to meet the demand that exists from business travelers. These airlines, though, are physically limited by the current terminal configuration.

“We believe that a new single terminal will result in new non-stop flights,” Reynolds said. “The convenience of direct flights to more destinations will result in more companies locating their central or regional distribution facilities in Kansas City.”

Companies are now creating proposals for the new airport design, proposals that the City Council will eventually debate. Council members will then forward the proposal they choose for a public vote in November, a vote that, so far at least, looks like it can go either way.

Proposals, that should hover around the $964 million mark, are expected to include a 6,500-parking garage, separated curbside pick-up and drop-off lanes and 35 gates for airplanes, a figure that could be expandable to 42.

“The KCI airport is Kansas City’s front door for both new companies considering a relocation or expansion of their operations, and for skilled labor that chooses whether or not to live in Kansas City,” Reynolds said. “For both new companies looking at our region and our future supply chain labor force, Kansas City needs to be perceived as the world-class city it is.”