In Fall 2011, AAFE closed on the strategic purchase of a vacant, former Federal complex situated in the Historic Northeast community of Kansas City, MO. The project, known as Hardesty Renaissance, plans to revitalize the site, creating new jobs and being one of the catalysts that helps Northeast KC become a sustainable place. Success will result in a model for projects of scale that AAFE can replicate in other cities.
The former Federal complex is an 18.3 acres site adjacent to the Kansas City Terminal Railroad, with 572,000 square feet of space in six buildings. The complex was built in 1941 as a Quartermaster’s Depot, and served many government purposes through 2002, when its last operation of FAA record keeping was transferred out.
Hardesty Renaissance has invested two years into developing relationships with communities, the local government, and organizations, while carefully researching potential development opportunities that could deliver the project’s vision.
Hardesty quickly discovered food to be a hot topic in Greater Kansas City, particularly relating to activity to increase access to local produce. In addition, Hardesty recognized: a growing food policy movement; new restaurants featuring locally grown produce; City engagement in promoting food related business; urban farming growth in the neighborhood; wholesalers and retailers increasing local produce market share; an evolving multi-state food hub collaboration; and new small farmers markets adding to the metro area’s longer established ones.
Two Hardesty specific studies have been completed with the objective of identifying value adding site uses. The first, completed in the first half of 2013, was authored by the Port Authority of Kansas City. This confirmed the potential for food hub type operations. The second study – partly funded by a Mid America Resource Council Planning Sustainable Places grant – identified gaps in the region’s food system that could be filled by operators based from the Hardesty site. Next steps will involve the development of business and financial plans built on the foundation the two market and supply chain studies.
First phase site development work to clean up the largest building (210,000 sq feet) on the site, and to complete a partial rehab – to create a workspace, exhibit, and meeting area – has a completion target date of March 2014. This will represent two major milestones: allow us to show our amazing building space to potential tenants, operators, or partners; and bring light and human activity back to the complex for the first time in twelve years.