Nothing scary about NewCentury Air Center’s impact on Kansas City region

newcentury air centerby Dan Rafter

Ghost hunters, paranormal experts and fans of ghost stories say that the NewCentury Air Center in Gardner, Kansas, is haunted. The airport and industrial park serving the Kansas City region even made an appearance on the “Haunted America” show on the A&E network.

Unexplained voices, whistles and footsteps. Doors that won’t remain locked. Other doors that suddenly open. Those are the scares that A&E reported.

But there’s nothing scary about the impact that the NewCentury Air Center has had on the Kansas City region. In addition to the airport, NewCentury is home to a 1,000-acre industrial park with more than 63 businesses and organizations. Nearly 5,000 employees work from the NewCentury Air Center.

The NewCentury Air Center today has a billion-dollar impact each year on the Kansas City metropolitan area.

And now the center might even break into spec building for the first time. Lee Metcalfe, executive director of the Johnson County Airport Commission — which operates the second and fourth busiest airports in the state of Kansas — said that the commission has teamed with a developer in early plans for a new area of development at the business park.

“We are an agent of county government, even though we try to behave like a real estate developer. But we do have some limitations,” Metcalfe said. “Governments doing spec buildings is something that’s frowned upon by a lot of people. So we’re teaming up with a developer that we’ve worked with in the past.”

Early plans call for the Johnson County Airport Commission to handle the infrastructure of any new development at the business park. The developer would build one or more spec buildings.

These plans, though, are in the early stages. Metcalfe said that nothing firm has yet been developed.

The NewCentury Air Center wasn’t always such an economic force. It formerly served as Naval Air Station Olathe. It wasn’t until 1973 that Johnson County acquired the facility. Back then, the former military base was named Johnson County Industrial Airport. It took its current name in 1994.

But spec building would make sense here. The Kansas City metropolitan region, like many markets across the Midwest, is seeing a rising demand for industrial buildings.

The Logistics Park Kansas City, scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of this year in Edgerton, Kansas, is driving some of that demand, Metcalfe said.

“Several very large spec buildings have been put up in anticipation of that,” Metcalfe said.

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