In a milestone for the future of Kansas City International Airport, the Kansas City Council on Thursday approved a team led by Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate to design, build and finance a new terminal.
Councilmembers Jolie Justus, Jermaine Reed, Kevin McManus, Alissia Canady, Quinton Lucas, Dan Fowler, Teresa Loar, Katheryn Shields, Heather Hall, and Mayor Sly James voted "yes;" Councilman Scott Taylor and Lee Barnes voted "no." Councilman Scott Wagner was absent.
The 10-2 vote didn’t come without heated discussion on which of the four proposers should get the job. Councilman Dan Fowler, for one, said at a committee meeting on Thursday that he didn’t get what he wanted.
“I wanted Burns and Mac to get it,” Fowler said.
Since it was eliminated from the running, Kansas City-based firm Burns & McDonnell has been questioning the city's procurement process. Still, Fowler says he believes in the process and in the selection committee’s choice.
“We had four proposals, not everyone was gonna make it, one was. I want to keep KCI moving forward because I recognize that without it nobody gets anything.”
Kansas City voters will decide whether they want a new terminal in November.
Fifth district Councilman Lee Barnes voted against endorsing Edgemoor. He says he's concerned about the team's commitment to hiring locally- and minority-owned businesses. Barnes thinks some of the other proposals were stronger on that point.
"In order to get the confidence of the people of this city to say, 'Yes we'll get behind you,' we needed to evaluate what was in the proposals and those of us who sat in the presentations and say, 'Yeah, that was the best proposal, that was the best presentation.' I don't think that happened this time," Barnes said.
Councilman Quinton Lucas said there's still work to do to make sure Edgemoor follows through with the community benefits, including providing alternate public transportation and day care services for workers, and a promise to hire a diverse, local workforce.
The city will now negotiate a memorandum of understanding with Edgemoor to determine financing and design details.
Edgemoor did not include any images or renderings of a design in their proposal. Architect Derek Moore said on Thursday they plan to have an initial design ready for the public in October.
Getting to this point in the process hasn't been easy.
On May 12, Kansas City Mayor Sly James announced local engineering firm Burns & McDonnell had made an unsolicited offer to design, build and privately finance an new, single-terminal KCI, assuring that the city would retain ownership and control of the airport.
After pushback from the public and from members of the city council, the city decided to open the project to bidding.
The procurement process has been mired in drama, complete with ethics complaints and calls to restart the entire process.
Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig.