Feds Moving 1,000 Workers from Bannister Complex to Downtown

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Over 1,000 federal workers learned that they will be moving out of the Bannister Federal Complex by the end of 2014, but many of them say that they aren't all that thrilled about where they're going.

The federal General Services Administration says that they will be leasing office space for the workers in downtown Kansas City - a move that some workers say will mean traffic congestion and paying for a parking space.

The sprawling 300-acre Bannister Federal Complex will become home to a new developer who plans on bringing manufacturing jobs to the site.

"We have a lot of very capable very dedicated employees who've spent their lives serving their customers, serving their country here at Bannister Federal Complex," said Jason Klumb of the GSA. "You're asking a lot of people who have literally been here for decades to make a momumental change in moving downtown."

Workers at the plant say that they're used to having plenty of space for parking - the complex was once home to 20,000 workers. They say that they are having a hard time coming to grips with the idea that their jobs will now be spread across downtown, and will likely have to pay for parking.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver told GSA workers on Thursday that the move will mean more high-paying jobs in south Kansas City.

"We can also look forward to having high paying jobs in south Kansas City because this is not going to be the site for a Burger King," said Cleaver. "This is going to be a place where people are making something."

Cleaver says that the move is a win-win for Kansas City, which can gain a new private-sector employer and move its federal workforce downtown - where attracting more workers has long been a civic goal.

"The Power and Light District, probably the owners of businesses there, are doing a jig dance right now because we're going to have more people downtown eating lunch, we're going to have more people going to grocery stores and restaurants and it can't help but further develop downtown," said Cleaver.

Officials say that a parking solution for the federal workers is something that they are working on.

A new downtown federal office building in the East Village Redevelopment Area has been proposed, but not funded. The GSA says that they will continue to perform environmental testing at the Bannister Complex in response to worker health and safety concerns about beryllium contamination at the site.

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