UMKC Issues Request for Interest in Construction of New Conservatory

World-class performing arts programs need larger, modernized space; all options will be considered

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has formally issued a Request for Interest (RFI) to Kansas City’s philanthropic and developer community to identify opportunities for construction of a new home for the university’s internationally acclaimed performing arts programs.

The document invites proposals for both on-campus and off-campus concepts. The university will consider off-campus concepts that involve existing buildings as well as new construction.

The new building will become the home for UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance and Department of Theatre. Faculty from the two programs announced in May that they are pursuing a merger.

As a home for both the Conservatory and Theatre programs, the new building will require a different configuration than that originally planned for a proposed new Conservatory, which had been planned for a site near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The RFI document reflects that the merger proposal will empower both UMKC and the community to think even more creatively about solutions for the Conservatory’s need for adequate and appropriate space, as determined by accreditors.

The RFI seeks interest from developers for both on-campus and off-campus solutions for a combination of services to include:

  • securing the land
  • securing any available public or private funding or development incentives
  • providing design and construction services
  • providing alternatives for both long term ground lease and land purchase options
  • providing alternatives for both public/private/partnership (P3) financing and facilities operations options

The document also specifies that the new Conservatory facility should include an associated 300-space, secure and dedicated parking lot or structure. The RFI requests development on land not currently owned by the University, to better preserve UMKC-owned property for future needs and also potentially provide proximity to community partners in the arts; however, the document states that UMKC will also consider development of the facility on land currently owned by the University.

The Conservatory will be a new or fully renovated 225,000-250,000 gross square feet facility. It is anticipated that the developer on this project will need financial and bonding capacity in excess of $100,000,000, not including land costs.

For off-campus proposals, the RFI seeks a proposed building site located within the approximate boundaries of Forest Avenue to the east, State Line Road (and the Missouri/Kansas state line) and I-35 to the west, 63rd Street to the south and I-35/I-70 to the north.

The University has set a deadline of 4 p.m. Central Standard Time on July 24, 2018, for responses to the Request for Information.

“The RFI process will help us determine where the new facility should be located,” said Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara A. Bichelmeyer. “A downtown campus may be our best solution, if we find strong academic reasons to build there and the resources to pay for it. If there is an existing building in a viable location that can be re-purposed at a much lower cost than new construction, then that may be our best option. Otherwise, we will locate the new facility on campus.

“There continues to be strong support for the Conservatory and for UMKC, in the Missouri Legislature and across the state,” Bichelmeyer added. “We hope that when we are ready with a new plan, this support will continue to be available.”

The new facility will provide suitable space for performance, composition and research at the university that for decades has been designated as Missouri’s Campus for the Visual and Performing Arts by the University of Missouri System.

Bichelmeyer pointed out that the two programs share a proud history of leadership in the arts and a profound impact on the cultural life of Kansas City and the state of Missouri. UMKC arts programs, faculty and alumni have provided the foundation of almost all of the Kansas City community’s premier performing arts organizations, including the Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet, Lyric Opera, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Unicorn Theatre, New Theatre Restaurant, Kansas City Actors Theatre, Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company and many more.

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