With the ongoing integration of the North American economy (e.g. NAFTA/USMCA), Kansas City has seen the emergence of a new corridor towards Mexico, often dubbed the “NAFTA highway”. The rail operator Kansas City Southern (KSC) has been a major proponent of this corridor by establishing a Mexican subsidiary (Kansas City Southern de Mexico; KCSM) with rail terminals at the port of Lazaro Cardenas. The system is labeled KCS International Intermodal Corridor. However, the setting of this corridor requires supply chain managers to consider the Lazaro Cardenas option, thus setting an inland port at the end of the corridor in Kansas City to help anchor this freight. In 2007, KCS and CenterPoint Properties began building a 1340-acre inland port labeled CenterPoint-KCS Intermodal Freight Gateway over a reconverted military base (Richards-Gebaur). This reconversion is managed by the Kansas City Port Authority, which can sell or lease the land under its jurisdiction. The developer Hunt Midwest is also involved in projects related to underground warehousing facilities.
Like many inland ports in North America, it follows the landlord model where a real estate promoter seeks revenue generation through a partnership with a rail operator, building logistics activities in co-location with the rail terminal. This park is a geographically specialized inland port within the Kansas City cluster with an orientation towards Mexican supply chains or global supply chains going through Mexico. It is thus interesting to note that the complex is labeled as a gateway to underline its status as a point of entry for global trade transiting through Mexico to an inland port deep inside the United States. The site has a foreign trade zone (FTZ) status, which supports its NAFTA-related import function. Like many commercial projects, the development of the inland port is divided into phases (five in this case), where facilities are incrementally provided to the location market. What is also particular to the project is its adjacency to a major interstate highway and its proximity to Kansas City (25 km south), a retailing component planned for revenue generation. However, partly due to the recession that unfolded in 2008, the project took time to attract tenants. The first lease was signed in 2013 when the US Department of Agriculture elected to relocate its animal and plant inspection facility within the logistics park. This underlines that it is often difficult to reconcile the goals and expectations of a logistics park project with commercial opportunities.