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KANSAS CITY, MO-The investor responsible for a more-than-$130-million mixed-use development in the Country Club Plaza area in Midtown tells GlobeSt.com that he has to wait until the end of this week to find out when his project can be completed. Halted by a dispute with a former contractor, entrepreneur Robert Bernstein has hired Walton Construction to finish his West Edge project, which includes a 205,000-square-foot office building and a 131-room hotel, as well as some retail. With the building about 70% completed, Bernstein tells GlobeSt.com that he expects to have the project finished by fall 2009. “They’re trying to ascertain what’s been done and what hasn’t,” he says. “We know that the precast and windows are up, but it’s not enclosed.”

Bernstein says his development company, Trilogy, is handling the job. He claims his former contractor, J.E. Dunn Construction, walked off the job, while Dunn reportedly says they weren’t paid on time. Dunn officials could not be reached for comment. The lawsuit is now in arbitration, but Bernstein says he hired a new contractor to keep the project going. “I’m a native of Kansas City, and have spent my entire 45-year career here, working in two separate buildings in the Plaza. I think it’s a beautiful place to build an iconic building,” he says. Bernstein says his lender, BB Syndication Services based in Madison, WI, still supports him.

He hired Boston architect Moshe Safdie to design the complex, which looks like a tiered resort complex. The office is on one end, with a driveway separating it from the hotel. There are six levels of underground parking with 1,000 spaces, Bernstein says. A 9,000-square-foot restaurant will anchor the retail.

The Bernstein-Rein advertising firm will help anchor the office building, with other space occupied by Bernstein’s other companies, including Trilogy, a franchise called Beauty Brands and Serendipity, a large owner of Blockbuster Video stores. “We’re going to take 130,000 square feet of the building, and we’ll lease the rest of the space out,” he says. “We’ve had some people looking at it, but we haven’t been able to get anything signed because we’re still unsure of the date of completion.” His advertising firm now leases space nearby. Expected rental rates for the office portion of West Edge will be $33.74 per square foot, full service, according to Bernstein’s Web site on the project.

The plaza is dominated by a large outdoor shopping center, with high-rise residential and more than 30 restaurants. Bernstein says he hopes this complex contribution, which will include a 12,000-square-foot advertising museum and a 270-seat theater, will go over well. “My sons and daughters are starting to take over the business, and I want to have a legacy building, something that everyone in the area will be proud of,” he says.

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