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Cerner building project promises to reinvigorate Bannister Mall area

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City's largest private employer is making good on its promise to build up South Kansas City by completing the exterior of the first two buildings in a $4.5 billion project.

"I remember the mall. Just running around being bad, like normal kids." Bannister Mall was a part of Briauna Whitney's childhood. Now the empty asphalt is the future home of Cerner's 16-building Trails Campus.

The project promises to bring in 16,000 jobs over the next decade. The corporate giant has also promised $2 million to nearby neighborhoods and $6 million to the Hickman Mills School District.

Whitney said, "It sounds good but I'm ready to see what they're actually going to do."

A Friday morning topping ceremony allowed politicians, city leaders, and Cerner executives to watch construction crews lay the last beams on these two new buildings. A milestone, they say, a year and a half into the 10-year project.

Cerner Chief Operating Officer Mike Nill said, "We're busting at the seam right now. We need office space right now."

While tech workers won't fill the halls until next January, 4,000 construction folks are earning money now.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon joked, "It feels so good just to hear people working while you're talking!"

A $4.5 billion investment that looks good on paper but won't really hold meaning for people like Whitney until the possibilities become personal. She said, "There's a lot of people I know that live in these apartments that would be willing to close to home."

Bannister Mall shut its doors almost nine years ago. It's remained empty until Cerner broke ground there last November. The construction crews working on the project are the same crews that built the two Cerner campuses near the Speedway in Wyandotte County.