A sprawling warehouse campus going up east of Baldwin City is expected to make the area a major distribution center for the nation — and beyond.
BNSF Railway Co. is building a 443-acre, state-of-the-art intermodal center in Edgerton. Now, when businesses ship their products by rail to the Kansas City, Mo., area, they will no longer have to send the empty containers back. Instead, companies near the intermodal facility will put them to use.
"That will potentially save millions of dollars in logistical costs," said Nathaniel Hagedorn, CEO and president of Kansas City, Mo.-based NorthPoint Development, which recently took over the lead on the project from San Diego developer Allen Group Inc. "It's a pretty compelling business opportunity for companies."
And those companies are going to need a place to store their products. Enter NorthPoint, which just started building vertical warehouse space on 558 acres of nearby industrial land.
Logistics Park Kansas City, as the project located in Johnson County is called, will be able to unload 500,000 containers a year to start, with developers planning to one day triple that capacity. The facility is expected to attract agricultural exporters, e-commerce companies, and traditional retailers and product distributors.
The first phase of NorthPoint's development is a 500,150-square-foot speculative warehouse — Inland Port I — being built on 11 acres of land across the street from the intermodal facility. It will have 7 million square feet of vertical warehouse space and is scheduled to be finished by the time the BNSF intermodal center opens in the fall.
"This is going to create a lot of long-term investment and jobs," Hagedorn said.
He said there would ultimately be thousands of permanent jobs at Logistics Park Kansas City, and the investment will dramatically increase the local tax base. He predicts the entire project will be completed sometime in the next five to 10 years.
The first tenant, The DeLong Co. Inc., intends to have its grain-distribution facility built by Aug. 1.
The DeLong Co. will purchase feedstuffs and grain from local processors such as ethanol plants and elevators before shipping it from Edgerton, with the majority going to China and southeast Asia.
CEO Bill DeLong said the $7.5 to $8 million investment will, between warehouse and logistical employees and truck drivers, create 10 to 15 jobs.
BNSF Railway Co. spent $250 million on the project, the third of its kind after similar hubs in Texas and Chicago. The rail-and-truck yard is located east of Douglas County, between 183rd and 191st streets by the I-35 corridor.
Environmental groups at one point sued to stop the project from happening, claiming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had insufficiently analyzed its environmental impact. But a federal judge disagreed, saying BNSF and the Army Corps of Engineers had thoroughly looked into alternative locations and included enough environmental mitigation in the project to proceed.