After years of back and forth and deal-making, a complicated (some would say bungled) procurement process, complete with ethics complaints and calls for a do-over, Kansas City, Missouri, voters have approved a plan to build a new, single terminal at Kansas City International Airport.
“We’ve come a long, long way," Kansas City Mayor Sly James said at a watch party at the Briarcliff event space in the Northland. "But here we are tonight and the voters of Kansas City have sent us a clear message again that they’re excited about the direction the city is headed in, and they want us to keep that momentum going.”
Although recent polls indicated the race would be close, voters overwhelmingly supported the new terminal — 75 percent voted "yes," while 25 percent voted "no."
Voter turnout in Jackson, Platte and Clay counties was around 20 percent — double the turnout of the last special election in Kansas City.
The billion-dollar project will be paid for using airport fees and revenue, not taxes or money from the city's general fund.
Tuesday's vote closes a chapter in the years-long debate between people who love the current design and those that think the 45-year-old building is past its life cycle.
City officials have been trying to move forward with a new airport for years, and in April 2016, the airlines that operate out of KCI, led by Southwest, told the city council they favored a new, single terminal over a renovation of the current "horseshoe" design.
But polling later the same month showed a lack of public support, so in May 2016, Mayor Sly James hit pause on talks for a new terminal.
Conversations stopped until May of this year, when city officials announced that they had reached a no-bid deal with local engineering firm Burns and McDonnell to design, build, and privately finance a new single terminal.
After pushback from the public and from members of the city council, the city decided to open the project to bidding.
Eventually, and after no shortage of twists and turns, the council selected a team led by Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate for the project.
Last month, Edgemoor released their initial design concept. They say they'll work with the community over the next few weeks before settling on the design.
Managing Director Geoff Stricker says financing details will be finalized in the spring of 2018.
Stricker said he plans to break ground on a new terminal late next summer.
Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter and the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig.