The Bannister Federal Complex, located at 1500 and 2000 E. Bannister Road in south Kansas City, Mo., 13 miles south of downtown, will be largely shut down within the next two years, according to a GSA announcement made last Wednesday, February 15.
The 5.1 million-square-foot, 300-acre complex was dedicated on July 4, 1942, by then-Senator Harry Truman and opened in 1943 as a factory that made engines for warplanes. Since 1949, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has built nonnuclear components for nuclear weapons at its Kansas City plant (KCP) there. At its peak, in 1988, the plant employed 7,850 people; yet, as the plant’s role diminished with the end of the Cold War, other federal agencies moved into the complex.
Ownership of the Bannister Federal Complex is divided between GSA and NNSA. The NNSA portion of the property includes 122 acres with more than 3 million square feet of manufacturing, warehouse and office space in what has evolved into a high-tech research production facility. Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, the prime contractor operating the plant for NNSA, currently employs more than 2,300 people there. Office and warehouse space not controlled by NNSA is owned and operated by GSA. The GSA portion includes 190 acres consisting of more than 2 million square feet of office and warehouse space. The nine federal agencies currently housed at Bannister are GSA’s Heartland Regional Office (with about 1,000 employees), the Department of Agriculture (250 employees), the Department of Commerce, the Department of Veterans Affairs (70 employees), the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Protective Service, the Marine Corps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (60 employees), and the Forest Service (40 employees). A total of about 1,900 federal workers operate in the nonmanufacturing space.
In 2006, GSA and the NNSA announced plans to relocate the KCP to a new 1.5 million-square-foot campus-style facility at the former Richards Gebauer Air Force Base. That campus is currently under construction and should be completed by 2014; employees will begin to move in later this year. In total, 2,100 to 2,400 employees are expected to relocate from Bannister to the new facility. Last week, GSA announced that it will move most remaining federal employees from the Bannister complex by 2014, with more than 1,000 GSA employees relocating to as-yet-undetermined leased space in downtown Kansas City and another 400 federal employees moving to additional undetermined locations. The only operation scheduled to remain at Bannister after the end of 2014 is a 400-employee U.S. Marine Corps information technology center, which is committed to remaining there until at least 2017. GSA officials are seeking a buyer to redevelop the property, a task that may be complicated by the existence of multiple Superfund sites there.
The entire south Kansas City area, including the now empty site of the former Bannister Mall, is badly in need of redevelopment. Last year, NNSA announced that it “is committed to exploring all potential avenues to transition the building to a subsequent owner who will use the facility in support of economic re-development of the KCP.” Mark Holocek, the NNSA executive in charge of the KCP, told the Kansas City Star last week that his office has received “a wide range” of proposals for the Bannister complex, but declined to discuss details, adding that a general description of the proposals should be available within two or three months but that no specific proposal would be identified before the end of this year.