BNIM cancels ultra-green Kansas City headquarters project after tax incentive controversy

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BNIM proposed high efficiency national headquarters in Kansas City (BNIM)

Less than a year after presenting a design proposal to renovate an empty warehouse into their new national headquarters in the Crossroads Art District of Kansas City, local firm BNIM has withdrawn its plans. After a losing battle over tax incentives, the firm and the building’s owner have stated that without the financial support of the city, the project is not economically viable.

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BNIM headquarters plan included a large public green space. (BNIM)

The proposal by BNIM, the 2011 AIA National Architecture Firm Award winners, was envisioned as a “living” building that would efficiently use water and produce as much energy as it used. As planned, the building would achieve a higher standard than LEED Platinum, something that BNIM has achieved one other time in a built project in New York State.

To achieve this level of sustainability, the project was planned to utilize numerous novel technologies and techniques, including a greenhouse to help with water management and a solar array used for energy, passive water heating and cooling, and shade. Also serving as a space for professional and academic education the firm described the project as “a global laboratory for quality sustainable design.” The firm would have used the top two floors of the 43,000 square foot building while the bottom floor was slated for retail, commercial, and office space.

With the support of the mayor and city council, the $13.2 million project was hoping to utilize $5.2 million from the cities Tax Incentive Finance Committee (TIF). A hotbed issue in many cities, social justice activists and concerned Kansas City School District parents opposed the incentives going to the project, stating that too much money would be diverted from public schools.

Understanding the concerns of residents, BNIM and the city attempted to negotiate and reformulate the proposal and incentive package to accommodate the resistance. The decision to provide the TIF money was to be voted on as a ballot initiative. By gathering petition signatures, opponents were able to stop the measure from even being added to the ballot, effectively killing the possibility of the money being released.

BNIM has stated that its is still committed to staying in Kansas City, and will now be looking for a new office space as current projects require growth in the coming year.

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