Stinson Serves as Legal Counsel in Innovative Redevelopment of Historic Rock Island Bridge
Stinson LLP served as legal counsel to The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas (UG) in the formation of an innovative public-private partnership and development of the Rock Island Bridge, a historic railroad bridge that crosses over the Kansas River, a public waterway.
The Rock Island Bridge project is the first-of-its-kind in the redevelopment of a railroad bridge into usable recreational space. As a trailhead and entertainment destination over a river, the bridge will connect communities in Kansas and Missouri with pedestrian and bicycle trail crossings from the West Bottoms in Missouri to the existing levee trails along the Kansas River's west side. Plans for the Rock Island Bridge project also include 11,000 square feet of multipurpose space for open-air food courts and a food hall with industrial kitchens, office and retail space, and 8,000 square feet of event space with a removable cover and an open-air veranda.
In addition to the redevelopment plans for the bridge, navigating the lengthy ownership history and the patchwork of development rights have made this project unique and challenging. With roots dating back to 1886 and although sitting entirely in Kansas, the Rock Island Bridge had been owned by the City of Kansas City, Missouri, since the late 1980s after the property was purchased as part of Kansas City, Missouri's Kemper Arena parking lot expansion, though it has remained unused since. Now, through extensive research, the purchase confirms property ownership and development rights to the UG.
"The Rock Island Bridge project is one of the most unique projects I have ever been a part of," UG Project Engineer Sarah White, P.E., said. "Getting this across the finish line and past some very difficult obstacles was definitely a team effort. The Unified Government is thankful for everything Stinson did to ensure a successful closing. We are excited to see the Rock Island Bridge project begin construction and become a catalyst for the future of the KCK Riverfront."
The cost to redevelop the Rock Island Bridge is expected to be roughly $12 million, with the UG contributing $2 million in public funds provided that will be repaid through a creative financing structure that includes community improvement district sales tax and tax increment financing.
Construction for the project has started. The anticipated opening date of the Rock Island Bridge is Spring 2024.
Learn more about the Rock Island Bridge.
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