Five minutes with JE Dunn MW President Paul Neidlein

Paul Neidlein stepped into the role of Midwest region president for JE Dunn Construction on January 1. The 22-year veteran of the Kansas City construction industry succeeded Dirk Schafer, who retired from Kansas City's top construction company in December. 

MetroWire Media caught up with Neidlein to take his pulse on the 2018 market and beyond:

MWM: What do you expect from the market in the next 18-24 months?

Neidlein: We feel good about 2018. In Kansas City, as well as in every market that we have an office, the arrow is pointed straight up. It will be a record year and 2019 will be as well. I'm not smart enough to predict after that.

MWM: Where does JE Dunn see the most short-term growth potential?

Neidlein: We feel bullish about federal work because we have done a fair amount of it, and JE Dunn has even started a separate federal group to manage those projects. Government facilities are a growth area for us. Part of that is strategic from a diversity standpoint because public work can help balance things out when the corporate side slows down. Anything and everything related to health care has been steady, including medical office. 

MWM: Historically, public projects have been JE Dunn's bread and butter. Do you expect that to continue?

Neidlein: Public projects remain a leading area for us. We still think there is a fairly large program being planned in Missouri with construction of state prisons and county jails. Municipal work on civic centers and community centers still looks pretty positive for us too.

MWM: What do you see as a market headwind?

Neidlein: There is a healthy skepticism about how long this boom is going to last. We will see major players get into trouble and get overextended. It goes back to the capacity side of things. Creditworthiness becomes more important when you think everything is good. 

MWM: What is the impact of all this activity on the trade contractors?

Neidlein: Contractor supply and workforce issues are real. The biggest issue is the capacity of individual companies and labor and what that does to pricing and availability.

KC retail experts weigh in on the future of Independence Center

It appears that economic challenges and increased nearby competition are forcing Simon Property Groupto sell Independence Center. According to research firm Trepp, the debt-strapped regional shopping mall is in foreclosure and headed for sale to a special servicer next week.

It's no secret that shopping malls and their brick-and-mortar retailer tenants have been hit hard by the e-commerce boom. Here's a snapshot of local expert commentary on the retail climate in Kansas City:

"This news highlights the pressure that all brick-and-mortar retailers are facing to deliver an experience that cannot be matched by online shopping. Everyone is searching for that magic mix of unique dining, amenities and brands that keeps traffic flowing through the doors."

-Dave Claflin, Legacy Development

"Independence Center remains one of only two malls in the greater Kansas City area. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) estimates that of the roughly 850 malls around the country, only the top 550 malls will remain standing in the next five years. The landscape of retail is changing, and many malls are being back-filled with office, hotels, entertainment and residential components." 

-Kimberly Tranbarger, Colliers International

"Within the last few years, Independence Center has added a number of stores including Dick's Sporting Goods and H&M and remains home to multiple national, regional and local retailers. The retail market is changing but it's not going away. Retailers are right sizing and even expanding as landlords move toward a strategic mix of retailers, entertainment and restaurant tenants."

-Eric Mann, retail developer and broker

"As 2018 begins, LANE4 anticipates another year influenced by advances in technology and shifts in consumer preferences. As experience and entertainment become key components to successful business, we are eager to learn which tenants can effectively fill spaces formerly occupied by high-profile retailers and which retailers can keep up with technology by enhancing online presence and in-store technology."

-LANE4 Property Group, 2018 Kansas City Retail Report

Kaw Valley Companies launches utility division

Kaw Valley Companies has launched a utilities division and added three new managers to its leadership team to support growth in that market.

KVC hired Darrell Kidwell to lead its utilities division, along with superintendents Shawn Schmalstieg and Rusty Shorten.

"We see significant opportunities in the utilities segment, with a potential to grow our business by 20-25 percent," said Jason Jacobson, KVC vice president of operations.

Kaw Valley Companies employs 146 full-time employees across five major business segments, including excavating, sand and gravel, wrecking and demolition, recycling and utilities.

Major site development projects completed by KVC recently include General Motors' 840,000-square-foot project in the Fairfax Industrial District, three buildings at the Three Trails Industrial Park, and Sioux Chief's 600,000-square foot facility in south Kansas City. 

The company also managed demolition of the former Bannister MallIndian Springs Mall, and Power & Light building in downtown Kansas City

In addition, KVC operates Port KC's Woodswether Terminal in the West Bottoms, as well as the Port of St. Joseph in St. Joseph, Mo

With Midwest Gateway, Copaken Brooks is Edgerton's new kid in town

Brokers were offered a sneak peak of Midwest Gateway, a 487,000-square foot warehouse and distribution center adjacent to the entrance of BNSF Railway's intermodal facility at 191st and Homestead in Edgerton, Kan.

“Edgerton is the hottest industrial submarket in the world right now. Fortunately, we are able to offer two state-of-the-art buildings at 32-foot clear here,” said Bucky Brooks, principal with project developer Copaken Brooks.

Midwest Gateway is one of a handful of facilities located along the heavy haul, I-35 corridor and allows shippers to send heavier loads to and from the 443-acre BNSF intermodal yard with significant reduction in drayage expenses. 

“Supply chain experts all agree there are huge cost savings here,” said Aaron Schlagel of Copaken Brooks. “ARCO knocked it out of the park with this facility. We are ready to make deals.”

Midwest Gateway was completed three months ahead of schedule. Features of the 301,000- and 186,000-square foot buildings include upgraded LED motion-sensor lighting, future trailer parking, and the ability for users to lease or own.

"Midwest Gateway can accommodate tenants fromt 50,000 square feet and up, creating a rare opportunity for tenants seeking smaller format distribution facilities who want proximity to the BNSF Intermodal,” said Russell Pearson of NAI Heartland, which is co-marketing the project with Copaken Brooks.

A variety of city and state tax incentives are available for up to 10 years for potential users, as well as Foreign Trade Zone benefits.   

Project partners include ARCO National ConstructionGMA ArchitectsShafer, Kline & WarrenKrudwig & Associates and Metro Air.

Click here to download a Midwest Gateway project brochure. 

 Building 1 at  Midwest Gateway  includes a balcony that overlooks BNSF's intermodal operations.

Building 1 at Midwest Gateway includes a balcony that overlooks BNSF's intermodal operations.

Cushman & Wakefield opens high-tech, collaborative Plaza West office

Cushman & Wakefield's Kansas City corporate office has relocated to a 10,000-square foot, high-tech, collaborative space on the 8th floor of the Plaza West building, 4600 Madison Ave.

"As the workforce changes, we have the ability to adapt quickly. The technology package we have here allows us to work anywhere," said Cushman & Wakefield Principal Mike Mayer. "The space is built for change and designed so we can even move the walls if we need to."

The office provides a mix of open areas and private, enclosed spaces, including both assigned offices as well as "focus-and-huddle" rooms. In addition, the space offers seamless interactive technologies, fully wireless connectivity and conferencing, ergonomic work spaces, moveable walls, and glass sliding doors on the main conference room to easily create a large, central gathering space adjacent to the kitchen area.

"Flexibility is the key, and this space allows for collaboration not only with each other but also with clients," Mayer said.

With floor-to-ceiling windows and treetop views of Kansas City to the south, the space is heavily branded with Cushman and Wakefield corporate signage but also includes local touches such as a decorative steel art piece installed by local engineering firm and fabricator Zahner Co

The metal panel at the office entrance forms a rough map of Kansas City's highway system using a series of dots and was designed by Cushman & Wakefield's local Marketing Manager Ashley Resner.

"Corporate real estate really drives your brand. We advise clients about that," Mayer said. "So, this new space allows us to implement our own best practices."

Bells and whistles include full kitchen with bar seating and beer on tap, a wellness area, restaurant-style meeting booths, and floor-to-ceiling wipe-board maps of the Kansas City region.  

Project partners included BRR Architecture,architecture and design services and Mid-America Contracting, general contractor. Cushman & Wakefield leveraged its in-house project management team to coordinate the build-out and relocation. Todd Gast, who leads the project and development team locally,  oversaw construction. Project Manager Scott Quarterson and Assistant Project Manager Josh Scott helped create additional efficiencies.