KCI Vote Is Just The Next Step In K.C.’s Commercial Growth

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The region is still buzzing with excitement after Kansas City overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new KCI — a move of support for an initiative sure to be a boon for so many aspects of our economy, our quality of life, and our business community.

This strong affirmative vote tells me that the city is on the verge of another major growth spurt. We’ve seen similar episodes in the recent past when the Sprint Center broke ground in 2005 and when construction on the streetcar began in 2014. These types of large infrastructure investments have had such a ripple effect, and I’m eager to witness the shot in the arm that a new KCI will deliver to the commercial sector.

In our business, we can feel the rumbles, especially in our development, leasing and property management divisions. I wasn’t surprised to see Kansas City, Mo., ranked #14 on a recent list of the fastest growing job markets for 2017. And that stat goes hand in hand with the population trends we’re seeing, including a big jump in the rate of domestic migration—people from around the country actively choosing to move here to live, work and raise families.

This type of development momentum is bringing so many positive opportunities for us, and for everyone who’s helping to build Kansas City.

Downtown is developing

Downtown is truly where you’ll see the fruits of this economic development. The streetcar line has done what its proponents promised, as more than $1 billion of new investment has already started (or will soon). We’re seeing the growth of a mixed-use urban center, accented by a unique arts scene and an intoxicating entrepreneurial spirit in the air.

The latest report from the Downtown Council reports on the positive additions coming to the area:

  • $114 million of office investment completed or under construction
  • $182 million of planned office investment
  • 2,500 residential units under construction and 3,900 planned (our condo management teams are especially encouraged about these numbers)
  • 348 hotel rooms under construction and 1,300 planned

And we feel privileged to have been part of this growth. Not far from our offices is the newly opened Corrigan Station at 19th & Walnut, a project we worked on with 3D Development. The building is a vibrant, mixed-use destination for tenants and visitors alike, offering impressive views, great access and connectivity. We now serve as the property manager for the building, which is the largest office project completed downtown in nearly a quarter century.

Construction has also begun on another exciting new project at 21st & Wyandotte. Developed jointly by Copaken Brooks and Altus Properties, ARTerra (which means “art of the earth”) will be the first high-rise apartment building to be built in the Crossroads, featuring 12 stories and 126 residential units.

Both of these projects – along with many others like it – are indicative of the type of resurgence and growth we continue to witness in the urban core.

Better KCI means a better KC

This development energy is no doubt connected to the momentum around a new airport. So, now that voters have approved the project, what can we expect in terms of economic impact to the commercial real estate market? While the new gates won’t open until at least 2021, I think we’ll begin to see some positive effects long before then. I’m a firm believer that a brand-new front door to our city will translate to many new guests—more businesses wanting to relocate here, more new residents moving here, and more visitors spending money here.

Joe Reardon, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, summed it up nicely in his regular email communication with members:

Yesterday’s overwhelming vote in favor of a new single terminal and ‘A Better KCI’ means a better KC region for all of us … This was a generational vote, and adds to the momentum our region is already experiencing. The ‘yes’ vote shows what we can do when we engage as a region. When we do, it can be transformative.

Most encouraging was the final vote tally, which showed the same consistently high percentage of “yes” votes in every region of Kansas City, Mo. That tells me that the time is indeed right for another leap forward—and this new airport is only the first step.

Working in commercial real estate, I look forward to this next stage of Kansas City’s growth. But even more than that, I’m proud to call this region home.

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