KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new development is breaking ground near the Kansas City International Airport, and Kansas City leaders are excited for the boost to the local economy.

The Chaves development sits on 87 acres next to the Ambassador Building near Cookingham and North Ambassador drives. When finished, it will house a range of businesses and hotels. 

“From convenience stores and gas stations to fast food establishments, restaurants and a service-oriented aviation support business, these pad sites will become integral parts of the community and the airport,” Richard Chaves, CEO of Parking Company of America, said.

“Kansas City building a new airport [terminal] caught our eye and made us take a deeper dive.”

Leaders said the new amenities and airport parking options will generate more development, jobs and more than $6 million a year in sales tax for the city. 

Former Kansas City Mayor Sly James did much of the heavy lifting to get the new airport terminal project done and says it’s no surprise that projects like PCA-KC’s are popping up just a few months after the first travelers made their way through the new terminal.

“That development is needed because the people who will be moving to this area, the people who will be leaving the airport and coming to the airport can utilize it,” former Kansas City Mayor Sly James said.

“I think you always have to look at development as part of a chain as opposed to isolated incidents,” James said.

The site will also house an 18,000-square-foot nursing lab for students at Western Governors University.

“We expect to train and graduate more than 1,000 nurses by 2026 to help address the need for nurses here in Missouri,” Vice President and Dean of the Leavitt School of Health Janelle Sokolowich said. 

“We have tons of people who went through COVID and they’re still at the bedside and they’re leaving in droves.”

She says the key is adding new nurses to the healthcare ranks across the nation, so their program is designed to allow people to enter the healthcare industry later in life. When they’re going through training, they’ll also need businesses nearby.

“Our students will travel from all over the state to come here and they’ll do intensives in the labs for four days, using all of the restaurants, all of the hotels.” Dr. Sokolowich said.

Construction is expected to take about 14 months to finish.

The Chaves development isn’t the only major project near the airport.

Just north of KCI, Hunt Midwest is developing over 3,000 acres of farmland for the KCI 29 Logistics Park, which will become a massive industrial and manufacturing facility. Hunt Midwest told FOX4 in April 2022 that it could help ship products all over the nation because of its proximity to the airport.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is also building a nearly 1 million-square-foot data center to the east, near Interstate 435 and U.S. Highway 169.

A solar project near the airport is in the works, and residential projects will provide housing for people who work in the jobs those projects will cumulatively create.

“This is getting ready to be a booming market, and the eyes of the world are on Kansas City right now with everything going on, and it was perfect timing,” Chaves said.

James hopes that the new airport terminal will inspire airlines to use Kansas City differently, making it a stopover location because the facility is bigger and can handle more traffic.

“Now, if they have to be here for a night, they have options on hotels that will be built, and if they decide to use the hotels, they’ll have options on where to eat and all those kinds of things,” said James.

The project does involve some public money from the city of Kansas City to help improve road infrastructure near the PCA-KC project. The Department of Aviation sent a letter to Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Kansas City Council, asking: “Why would the City put funding into MoDot infrastructure that will mostly benefit the developer who has plans to compete with KCI’s biggest revenue source, parking?”

The note continued: “Parking generates roughly $55M for this airport and having the City participate in funding improvements which will compete with our parking assets doesn’t seem the best use of City funds.  Imagine using $8M in infrastructure funds so a developer to compete with Water Dept. or [Public Works?”]