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Cerner Plans to Sell KCK Campus, Move Employees to South Kansas City

Consequence of Post-Pandemic Hybrid Workforce

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Above image credit: The Cerner "Continuous Campus" at Village West in western Wyandotte County opened in 2013. (Photo | Google Maps)

Cerner Corp. plans to sell its “Continuous Campus” in western Wyandotte County and relocate the remaining employees to its South Kansas City campus on Bannister Road, according to an internal employee memo obtained by CityScene KC.

The two-building office campus located at the entrance to Village West was developed as part of a 2010 STAR Bond agreement with Kansas and Wyandotte County that included the development of the Sporting KC soccer stadium, now called Children’s Mercy Park.

The $414 million development deal included a promise by Cerner to bring thousands of new jobs to the 660,000-square-foot office campus. The campus opened in August 2013 at an event attended by then Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and top Cerner executives.

The decision would be a major blow to the Wyandotte County economy.

It was the prospect of landing well-paying jobs that made the office campus and soccer project particularly appealing to state and county economic development officials, and political leaders.

The internal message to Cerner employees obtained by CityScene states the firm plans to begin the sale of the campus in August. The firm already has announced the sale of its North Kansas City “Oaks” and “Riverfront” locations.

“In August, Cerner will initiate plans to sell the Continuous Campus in Kansas City, Kan.,” the employee memo stated.

“With construction of the most recent phase of the (South Kansas City) Innovations Campus completed and a reduced demand for dedicated work spaces resulting from the transition to a predominantly hybrid workforce, the time was right to consider opportunities to reduce our physical footprint (office space).”

“The company determined that the Innovations and Realizations campuses in South Kansas City are best suited to foster collaboration among innovation and technology teams going forward.

“Although the campus is nearly empty already, the small number of associates assigned to the Continuous have been made aware of plans to relocate.”

The message goes onto to inform employees the Cerner headquarters will remain in Kansas City and the firm plans to discuss its real estate decision in its earnings call with investors Friday.

Cerner recently completed the construction of its fourth office building at its South Kansas City Innovations campus where the Bannister Mall was formerly located.

Cerner and Wyandotte County officials could not be reached immediately for comment.

At the time the Cerner campus in KCK was announced, it was anticipated that up to 4,000 new jobs would be located there. The new office buildings featured stainless steel facades designed to resemble the pattern of human DNA.

More than $170 million in STAR bonds were issued to help build the office campus and soccer stadium projects. Those bonds were to be repaid by sales taxes generated by retail activity in Village West.

At the time of the deal, UG officials estimated the STAR bonds would be repaid by 2017 and begin yielding $12 million in new revenues to the county and $40 million to the state.

Since then, however, the STAR Bonds have been extended to help incentivize additional Village West projects.

Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.

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