Economy

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Craig Slawson knows a lot about oil exploration, a business his family has been in for 60 years.

In that industry, when you find a "play," you’ve identified a geological region where conditions are ripe for discovering oil fields, lots of them.

Now that he’s expanded into real estate, the Denver-based founder of Epoch Developments believes he’s located a promising new "play" for that business in the River Market.

Foutch Brothers, LLC

The $39 million redevelopment of the former Kemper Arena into a amateur sports complex that's expected to draw a half million out-of-town visitors to the West Bottoms annually has cleared its last financial hurdle.

Burns & McDonnell Adds 20 Partners To Its KCI Team

Jul 18, 2017
Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

From the “KC Built. KC Pride.” banners to the backdrop of the downtown skyline to the sprinkle of reps wearing Love KC shirts, Burns & McDonnell portrayed itself as the true hometown team during its KCI announcement Tuesday morning.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

When it became clear the Republican-controlled state legislature wouldn’t be raising the minimum wage above $7.70 an hour, leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City took matters into their own hands.

Conner Hazelrigg
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Three years ago, Conner Hazelrigg was a sophomore at William Jewell College, in Liberty, Missouri, when a friend came back from a trip to Haiti. The friend told Hazelrigg that everyone in the island nation—one of the world’s poorest countries—has a cell phone. They just don’t have any way to charge them. Electricity, she learned, was expensive and hard to find.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Warren Erdman, the leader of the local effort to obtain state money for the proposed UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts, warned Thursday that any alternative funding plan in response to the Gov. Eric Greitens’ veto last week should not place a “severe” strain on UMKC.

“The governor decided not to go in that direction, and the (state matching funding) tool is no longer in the tool box,” Erdman told a meeting of the Downtown Council board.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

City officials are working with a private developer to make the River Market an even more urban, mixed-use area by replacing three parking lots with a 400-space garage, and two apartment projects totaling more than 160 units.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Sprint has entered two months of exclusive talks with cable giants Charter Communications and Comcast, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

KC Hotel Developers, LLC

The long-planned Kansas City downtown convention hotel has a new flag and welcome infusion of cash from Loews Hotels, a New York-based luxury hotel operator.

Developer and attorney Mike Burke, who has pushed for the convention hotel project for more than six years, says Loews has agreed to invest a “substantial” amount of equity in the 800-room project and operate the hotel.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Apartment construction in metropolitan Kansas City is hitting levels not seen since before the Great Recession with more than 5,000 units expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Many of those projects are going up in downtown Kansas City and similar places such as old Overland Park, where developers say renters both young and old covet a walkable environment.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Kansas officially has a new soccer complex. It is part of a move to bolster the city's position as a soccer capitol.  

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

The number of business start-ups has increased for the third consecutive year, according to the annual Kauffman Index of Startup Activity, and immigrant-owned businesses show strong growth.

The annual Kauffman Index, released Thursday, says first-generation immigrants make up 30 percent of all new U.S. entrepreneurs, reaching its highest level for just the second time in 20 years.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

Downtown Kansas City leads the nation these days reducing its office vacancy rate, but not because it’s returning to its heyday as the region’s business center.

The drop is primarily due to the conversion of many older, obsolete office buildings into apartments and hotels as downtown has transitioned to a mixed-use, "live, work and play" district in the 21st century.

A total of 1.7 million square feet of former office space has been converted to new uses over the past three years, according to CBRE Group, a national real estate firm.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

City leaders say Kansas City can get a new, single-terminal airport at no risk to tax payers.  Burns & McDonnell, one of Kansas City’s big engineering firms, is offering to take on the project at Kansas City International Airport, not just the design but the financing as well. 

Kansas  City Mayor Sly James says the deal would leave the city completely out of the project’s funding.

Courtesy Opus Developement Group

New projects in the works for historic Westport are prompting a grassroots effort to survey the district’s buildings to help provide a solid planning base for future development decisions.

Plans for two apartment projects and a hotel are being reviewed at City Hall for a district that’s been popular destination since before Kansas City was born.

Courtesy BNIM

Plans for a new downtown YMCA, the latest on expanding the Kansas City streetcar and an update on the UMKC downtown arts campus were discussed by the Downtown Council of Kansas City Thursday.

YMCA could wrap fundraising this summer

Backers of a planned Downtown YMCA that would incorporate the facade of the historic Lyric Theater as part of the $30 million project hope to wrap up fundraising this summer.

Courtesy Block Real Estate Services

Construction on the first multi-tenant office tower to go up in the Country Club Plaza in more than a decade is expected to begin this summer following approval of final incentives.

The 14-story 46 Penn Centre project is planned for 46th Terrace and Pennsylvania Avenue just north of the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist by Block Real Estate Services.

Kevin Collison / KCUR 89.3

It’s been 30 years since metropolitan Kansas City’s beltway, Interstate 435, was completed, and its important role as a route for economic development has been a tale of two states.

In southern Johnson County, where the first leg of I-435 opened between I-35 and Metcalf Avenue in 1965, smart planning by local and state leaders has made the I-435 corridor that area’s bustling main street.

Kevin Collison for KCUR

North Kansas City is opening a new “front door” on Armour Road, transforming land once dominated by massive flour mills into a mixed-use district that includes an $8 million jewelry store.

KC Hotel Developers LLC

The planned $310 million convention hotel project is expected to create a better pedestrian connection between major downtown destinations as well as provide dramatic views for its guests, its architect says.

“We believe that this building should be designed for the residents of Kansas City,” architect Bob Neal of Atlanta-based Cooper Carry told the City Plan Commission Tuesday.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri historic tax credit program, a development tool that’s revived scores of landmark buildings, is facing its most serious challenge in years, putting such major projects as the redevelopment of Kemper Arena in jeopardy.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

Mike Farmer’s high-tech startup, Leap.It, caught the attention of AOL founder Steve Case in October 2014 because Farmer’s company was built in the first house hooked up with Google Fiber.

Case loved the irony of the David of Kansas City taking on the Goliath of Google.

“You’re undermining Google right here in the Start-Up Village in Kansas City,” Case said at the time. “On Google Fiber! That’s pretty cheeky!”

Farmer doesn’t remember the cheeky line, but the Google angle is “an interesting story line,” he said.

Mid-America Regional Council

In the Kansas City metro area, the economy added about 25,000 jobs over the past year and is now growing at a rate of about two and a half percent per year.

Frank Lenk, who specializes in economic and demographic forecasts for the Mid-America Regional Council, says this is above historical norms of about two percent.

He says the figures for the Kansas City economy show two sectors creating the most jobs.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City’s East Side is receiving renewed attention this year with several initiatives aimed at attracting investment to an area that’s struggled economically for many decades.

 

Topping the list is a grassroots proposal championed by East Side clergy and others that will ask voters next month to approve a 1/8th cent sales tax increase. It would generate an estimated $8 million annually to support development east of Troost Avenue.

 

There are other new plans and proposals as well.

 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that St. Louis can raise their minimum wage to $11 by 2018. 

This reverses a lower court's decision in 2015, which struck down the increase because it would conflict with a state law that prohibits municipalities from enacting a minimum wage higher than the state's. 

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has announced the expansion of the Hire KC Youth program into a city-wide initiative. The program offers about 200 summer internships but the Mayor appealed to about 80 businesspeople and employment groups at a breakfast meeting to provide more.  

“There is no better social program than a job,” said James. “And when kids have work, when they have a sense of responsibility, then their entire world opens up and barriers and walls fall.”

Foutch Brothers, LLC

An ambitious $30 million plan to convert the Kemper Arena into a bustling center for amateur athletics won support for tax incentives Thursday from a public development agency.

The Planned Industrial Expansion Authority approved a 12-year property tax abatement for the redevelopment project of the arena in the West Bottoms being pursued by Foutch Brothers. The PIEA also authorized up to $24 million in revenue bonds for the project.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

President Donald Trump’s threats to disrupt trade with Mexico aren’t just concerning people south of the border. Each time Trump attacks the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the executives at a 130-year-old railroad with headquarters in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, hold their breath. Like a lot of U.S. companies Kansas City Southern depends on cross-border trade.   

Kansas City Southern takes Midwestern corn and auto parts to Mexico, and hauls finished cars, car parts and household appliances like washing machines and refrigerators back.

Danny Wood/KCUR 89-3

After his application for a commercial development was rejected by the city, former Lawrence mayor Bob Schumm, is trying a different approach: asking the Douglas County authorities to re-zone the plot of land on Vermont Street for agricultural use.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Over the last few years, the country’s tech giants — Google, Twitter and Facebook — have all been called out for their mostly white and mostly male staffs.

Diversity has become a top priority in Silicon Valley. 

Vewiser Dixon, an area entrepreneur, wants to help Kansas City avoid the image plaguing Silicon Valley — by building a tech space from the ground up, with diversity hardwired into its core.

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