Central Region of National Archives moving to KC's Union Station

Thursday, August 16, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Documents chronicling 170 years of life on the Great Plains will move to Kansas City's Union Station in an effort to make the archives more accessible to the public.

The Central Plains Region of the National Archives has received approval to move its artifacts and documents from the Bannister Federal Complex to the old Adams Express Co. freight building next to Union Station.

The former freight building was identified two years ago as the best location for the archives, but the move was delayed until the National Park Service reviewed the design to determine if it was eligible for tax credits to help pay for the redevelopment.

The agency approved the location last week, and Union Station officials will sign a 20-year lease for the archives.

Central Plains Archives' documents include most of the records collected by nonmilitary federal agencies in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska from 1821 to 1990.

About 50,000 cubic feet of documents -- about 1,600 documents per cubic foot -- are available on site, with an additional 3 million cubic feet stored in area caves.

They include important documents such as the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education as well as more whimsical items, such as letters from Buffalo Bill recruiting American Indians for his Wild West Show. Harry Truman's draft card, steamboat registrations, slave receipts and "enemy alien" documents that German-Americans were required to carry during World War I also are part of the collection.

"We want an absolutely first-rate archives facility the community will be proud of," said R. Reed Whitaker, regional administrator for the National Archives.

The $10 million project will include renovation of the 36,000-square-foot Adams Express building and an 8,000-square-foot addition, as well as a 42-space parking lot.

The new facility is expected to open in fall 2008.

Whitaker said his agency has asked Brian LeBeau, a historian and dean at the Kansas City Kansas Community College, to help determine what would attract more people to the new facility.

The proposed three-level facility is expected to include classrooms with teleconference capability, a research reading room, exhibition space, offices and storage.

Under the arrangement, cash-strapped Union Station will receive $86,000 per year from the developer of the archives facility, Broadway Square Partners LLP, a subsidiary of DST Realty and Financial Holding Corp.

"I'm absolutely pleased," said Andi Udris, chief executive officer of Union Station Kansas City Inc. "Every penny is additional revenue."

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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