Business West learns about development along Turner Diagonal

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

When a commercial real estate agent first approached Brent Miles of Northpoint Development about selling a tract of about 125 acres along the Turner Diagonal corridor, the answer was a flat no.

Miles told that story Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the annual membership meeting of Business West at the Mary Ann Flunder Lodge by the Lake at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

However, when Miles learned that Amazon wanted the site for a warehouse that would have about 800,000 square feet of floor space and that it could eventually mean the site could support more than 2,500 new jobs, Northpoint reconsidered and sold the property to investors connected with the USAA Insurance Company of San Antonio, Texas.

The Amazon warehouse could be the initial catalyst that could mean considerable more development along this corridor.

Miles said the site was very rough terrain and required a considerable amount of earth moving. The Kansas Department of Transportation helped pay for necessary roadwork including traffic signals at the entrance to the site. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority will provide bus service to the warehouse.

Jon Stephens, the acting director of economic development for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, also spoke at the meeting. He said that about one-third of the employees at the warehouse will be from Wyandotte County. Amazon pays from about $13 to $15 an hour for its warehouse workers along with health insurance and a generous reimbursement for education.

Miles said that the Amazon jobs do not pay as well as high-end manufacturing jobs; however, they do offer a chance for someone like a worker at a fast-food restaurant to move up and double his or her salary.

Stephens said that Amazon’s warehouses are highly automated with thousands of robots that gather items from bins that customers have ordered using the internet.

Stephens said he can envision an area of about 2,300 acres from 61st Street on the east, 72nd Street on the west, State Avenue on the north and K-32 on the south being influenced by development along the Turner Diagonal that could be developed. He said he realizes that there is already some development in the area that should remain.

Also speaking at the meeting was Conrad Miller, a Johnson County development lawyer who is assembling some 249 parcels that cover 34 acres at the north end of the Turner Diagonal corridor. Miller said Steve Wood, a builder, plans to build a 280-unit market-rate apartment complex that would charge market-rate rents. The College Park Town Homes and other buildings would be razed.

Miller said he has commitments from more than 90 percent of the landowners. Wood has built several successful apartment developments including the one at Delaware Ridge. Miller said related retail development will also be part of the development and would be called Turner Vista.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

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