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04.07.2014
Hitting Reset
Abandoned Kansas City mall site slated for tech campus.
The former Bannister Mall once occupied the site.
Courtesy Bing Maps

Earlier this year, Zane Burke, the CEO of healthcare information technology giant Cerner, announced his company’s big bet on Kansas City. Cerner, he said, would build a new complex dubbed the Three Trails Campus made up of 11 office buildings over 4.1 million square feet. The $4.3 billion project is located on 237 acres at I-435 and Bannister Road on the site of the long stalled Bannister Mall redevelopment site. Cerner has been at the forefront of the medical record digitization movement.

At full build-out in 2024, the campus plan, designed by Kansas City–based firm Gould Evans Architecture, will be the site of 15,000 new jobs and include a 75,000-square-foot daycare center, two data centers, a service center, and 370,000 square feet of retail. The Kansas City Council approved $1.63 billion in tax incentives for the project. Flanked by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Kansas City Mayor Sly James at a January 17 press conference, Zane said, “The project will serve as the hub of innovation to improve the healthcare and wellness of the communities we serve.”

 
Master plan.
Courtesy Cerner
 

The final assembly of the land needed for the project, estimated at $44 million, occurred in December 2013. The first of 14 phases has already begun at the site with final demolition now completed and grading to commence this Spring. The first phase of the project will include 578,000 square feet of office space in two new buildings and the service center. The first phase will create 2,260 new jobs. “To say this project is a big deal is an understatement,” said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. “This project is transformative and a defining moment for this region and the state.”

The old Bannister Mall site has a storied past of starts and stops and has been a community eyesore for nearly a decade until it finally closed in 2007. Once the proposed site of Major League Soccer Champions Sporting Kansas City (then the Kansas City Wizards), whose owners include Cerner executives, the project is a homecoming of sorts. Just south of the project is Cerner’s 235,000-square-foot Innovation Campus. “This project has already made a significant impact in our community, and it signals the rejuvenation of retail services in South Kansas City,” said 6th District Kansas City Councilman John Sharp, who represents the area and lives near the site.

Hickman Mills School District has already received $6 million to upgrade science and technology learning, and the neighborhoods adjacent to the site have received $2 million for various neighborhood beautification and cleanup projects as part of the development agreement.

The project is one of several large projects announced in South Kansas City in the last few months. Another large property owner just west of I-435 from the Cerner project has announced a new health sciences and research office park, entitled Oxford on the Blue, and the federal government announced plans this winter for the full cleanup and remediation of the soon-to-close Bannister Federal Complex.

“This is the beginning of a great turnaround story in South Kansas City,” said Sharp.

While Gould Evans designed the master plan, no architect has yet been selected for the first phase of construction, which is expected to be completed in 2016.

Gunnar Hand