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KCATA signs predevelopment agreement for Keystone innovation district

Published Kansas City Business Journal on January 29, 2019

The Keystone District is starting to take shape with a new predevelopment agreement between a JE Dunn Construction development entity and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. 

It's the first step in determining whether the proposed innovation district is viable along the 18th Street corridor, KCUR reports. The plan also requires those spearheading the effort to prove they can secure at least some financial support in the next six months. Tentative development plans estimate that the two-phase project will cost $90 million to $120 million. 

KCATA owns the 2-acre block bounded by 17th and 18th streets, Troost and Forest avenues, where construction of the district is being proposed. The district aims to be a centralized hub for education, research and partnerships, and it also would foster opportunities to accelerate entrepreneurship through offerings such as coworking and educational programming. 

KCATA's agreement gives JE Dunn development rights during the due diligence period. If Keystone District organizers demonstrate enough financial backing, KCATA will create a development agreement that allows Keystone to either lease or buy the property. 

Some of Keystone's supporters include KC Rising, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas City Area Development Council. Former Pinsight CEO Kevin McGinnis is leading the effort and formed Keystone Community Corp. to manage the district. 

"We always talk about this is a great place to live, and the only thing that typically draws people out of Kansas City is they don't see enough opportunity," McGinnis said during a previous interview.

Keystone could help Kansas City compete with peer cities and fill gaps that KC Rising identified in its previous reports, such as workforce development and corporate engagement in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In addition to office and coworking space, the site would offer mixed-income housing and amenities that could include restaurants, event space and a coffee shop. 

"It's mixed-use for innovation," McGinnis said. 

Last year, the Kansas City City Council approved a resolution asking the city manager to negotiate a three-year agreement with Keystone Community Corp. and identify $900,000 in funding to support planning, designing, managing and consulting services for the district.

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