Kansas City voters pick “away team” for $1bn airport, ending epic battle

Voters in Kansas City have approved plans for a Maryland developer to build a $1bn new terminal for their international airport, ending a confused and intensely political procurement process.

The result of the special election was expected to be close, but voters decisively ended the conflict by voting 75% to 25% in favour of the plans of Maryland developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate and Clark Construction Group, rejecting the local contractor who proposed the private finance scheme in the first place.

Councillor Jermaine Reed said after the election: "I believe Kansas City deserves to be in the same conversation as our nation’s most prosperous cities. The outcome of the KCI terminal expansion referendum proves that voters across the city share this conviction."

Work will now go ahead to demolish the airport’s three horseshoe terminals and replace it with a single privately financed facility, with completion scheduled for 2021.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s rendering of the terminal’s exterior

The public voted partly on the basis of renderings of the completed terminal by Chicago architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (pictured). However, Geoff Stricker, the managing director of Edgemoor, says the termiknal could look different to the renderings. The company plans to hold a series of open meetings to get feedback on what users want from their airport in terms of convenience, amenities and technology.

The city had been arguing over the terminal since 2011 without managing to agree on a definite plan. When local contractor Burns & McDonnell offered to build a terminal without using public funds, the council agreed. This was then subject to a "Swiss challenge" by Aecom, which forced the council to open the tender up to third parties, and Edgemoor then entered the race.

The surprise result of this process was that the Maryland team was awarded the work, amid protests from the losing bidders. See related stories below for a fuller history of what became an intensely political struggle for the work.

Top image: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s rendering of the new terminal interior

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