Kansas City, Mo. The government wants to replace the aging nuclear weapons parts plant in Kansas City with a $500 million plant that would include buildings totaling more than 1 million square feet.
If the plan is approved, the new plant would be built in south Kansas City next to the former Richards-Gebaur Memorial Airport, federal officials said Tuesday. It would replace a plant originally built in World War II to make warplane engines.
The new facility would occupy a 185-acre campus. The GSA has an option to buy the south Kansas City site and has preliminary approval to seek requests from developers this summer for a plant that would accommodate the Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies plant in a build-to-suit leasing arrangement.
Honeywell operates the plant, which manufactures non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons on behalf of the National Nuclear Security Administration. It currently employs 2,600 people in the 3-million-square-foot facility at the Bannister Federal Complex.
"This complex was built to manufacture Pratt & Whitney engines, not to be a nuclear weapons complex," said Brad Scott, regional administrator for the federal General Services Administration. "They wanted a new facility for their mission, rather than retrofitting a building built in 1943."
If all goes as planned, construction would begin in late 2008 or early 2009 and be completed in fall 2010. The new plant won't be fully occupied until 2012.
The site, which is called the "preferred alternative" because it has not received final approval from Washington, is owned by interests tied to the Zimmer Cos.
The new facility would reduce the plant's annual operating and maintenance costs, while also being better able to meet its national security functions, Mark Holecek, deputy site manager for the NNSA, said in a statement.
The replacement facility would employ about 2,000 people. Unlike the current plant, which is on government-owned property, the new plant would generate local property taxes because it would be privately owned.
Kansas City development officials estimated the plant could eventually generate about $7 million annually in property taxes.
Missouri's congressional delegation had worked to keep the plant and its well-paid work force in Kansas City. The plant's payroll last year was $193 million, and its operators purchased $41.9 million in goods in Missouri and $15 million in Kansas.
"I am pleased with their decision to maintain a strong presence in Kansas City," Sen. Kit Bond said in a written statement. "NNSA's new facility will ensure their presence in Missouri for years to come."
Scott said the NNSA is required by law to have the old plant site in satisfactory environmental condition before the federal government could begin disposing of it. That won't begin until at least 2012.
The new complex is expected to include buildings for office, laboratory, light industrial/manufacturing and storage. Scott said the complex is expected to be built to strict environmental design standards.