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KANSAS CITY, MO-The US General Services Administration is looking to close up the 5.2-million-sf Bannister Federal Complex here, a former military aircraft manufacturing facility turned into a flex office building, and build a few new facilities in the area to handle the complete government exodus by 2012. The new properties include a $500 million nuclear weapons plant (for non-nuclear components) by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and a 429,000-sf office building Downtown. Just recently, five developers were accepted for the second phase of inspection to build the nuclear parts facility, and the GSA is encouraging Congress to approve the office building before its winter break.

Various government agencies, such as the IRS and the National Archives, have already been relocated out of the 60-year-old Bannister complex, which is located at the corner of Bannister Road and Troost Avenue. More than 13,000 people worked at the facility at its peak at the end of World War II, but that figure is now less than a third of what it was then. The IRS went to a $378 million, 1.1-million-sf new campus in the Downtown in 2006, for example.

Bradley Scott, regional administrator for the GSA, says because so many agencies are moving out, it forced the GSA to also vacate. “The space would have been unsustainable, operating costs would be sky-high. It’s an inefficient building anyway, made up of 20-foot column spacing, inconsistent floor lines and ceiling heights, and it’s an energy hog,” he says.

He says that after the first bid fell through, five developers have recently been shortlisted to build the new $500 million parts plant at Highway 150 and Botts Road. The agency would drop in usage from 3.2 million sf to 1.4 million sf for a new campus property, with manufacturing, laboratories, warehouse and office, which would be leased in a build-to-suit. The GSA has partnered with the nuclear agency to get a developer approved. “We’re now going to start talking to the developers about their proposals, such as the development layout, architectural and engineering, basically what they’re going to build and how they’re going to finance it,” Scott tells GlobeSt.com. He says he can’t divulge the companies.

The maximum rent the nuclear agency will pay will be $38 per sf, or $58.9 million annually, for a 20-year lease. According to the timeline, the lease award will be given in January, design and construction will start in the spring, relocation will begin in summer 2010 and the campus will be fully occupied by fall 2012.

The office building, which has no price at this point, is still in more of a planning stage. The facility will be designed to handle up to 1,600 workers. The GSA wants to also do a build-to-suit for this property, with a 20-year lease. The city has already offered up two possible locations, with the land included at no cost. One proposal is East Village, a planned development that would go up across the street from the Bolling Federal Building on the eastern side of the Downtown. The other property is along the Missouri River, a 55-acre Port Authority-owned property which would also include residential units, retail, other office space, a hotel and a park. The city is also offering about $39 million in TIF for the riverfront project. Scott says. “It will be part of the competition along with any other proposals,” he says.

Scott says the office proposal is now under Congressional Review, with a solicitation for officers planned for after the approval, hopefully by winter 2009. The development award would be given out by then as well, and the groundbreaking should take place by spring 2010, with the building complete by fall 2011, he says. “We’re hopeful we have direction by the end of the year, or in the lame duck Congress,” he says.

Finally, after everyone is moved out, the large Bannister complex will be put together for sale. “There is contamination since it was the aircraft plant, mostly petroleum-based, so we’ll have to clean that up,” Scott says. Then, the long review will start for the new ownership, by first seeing if another federal agency can use it, then offered for public benefit, and then, if it’s still not sold, offered for private use at a fair market value.

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