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But all of Udris' sales skills might not be enough to convince Kansas City that it has an obligation to enact a 5-cent property tax.
He knows people are bitter about the perceived failure of Science City. When he meets people from out of town and tells them he works at Union Station, they're often under the impression that the building went bankrupt and closed years ago.
"I get it if people say they can't afford to do a tax. What bothers me is when I hear people who almost want to be vindictive, like they want to punish someone for past failures," Udris says.
"There's this hate toward Science City — 'Evildoers! You lied to us!' But look back. You see there's no way that place was ever going to achieve the numbers they said it would. I think people were more concerned about getting the building rehabbed and going, and then figuring out how to keep it going later on.
"All I can say to that thinking — this idea that we've had our chance — is that people have to make a choice whether they want to let this building slip back into the way it was and just let the city move on, or if they want to get over it."
If the endowment isn't approved, Udris says, his plans should keep the Station sound through 2010. After that, it's hard to say what will happen.
Still, any good salesman needs to give you a reason to buy. Whenever Udris tries to explain what property owners will get for their $2 million-plus a year if the endowment is approved, he spends less time on practical reasoning than on nostalgia.
"The science portion is definitely needed. There's not a single major city that doesn't have a science center," he says. "More than that, it's a community icon. You have to have that to be in a major city, whether that's the Arch in St. Louis or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. We've got the Liberty Memorial, and we've got this."
But we have other things, too — with more on the way.
In Overland Park, there's a stretch of undeveloped land along the 6000 block of West 135th Street that's poised to target the same science and history enthusiasts Union Station is relying on to stay solvent.
A white sign planted on the edge of the road heralds the future home of the Prairiefire development, scheduled to open by fall 2010.
Prairiefire is the brainchild of Fred and Candy Merrill, owners of a real estate development, brokerage and investment company with headquarters across the street from the open field.
The Merrills call Prairiefire a "lifestyle shopping center." It will mainly be a retail development, but it's slated to have a unique attraction that makes Udris nervous.
As part of an agreement for traveling exhibits with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the development will include a museum area scheduled to feature two science and history exhibits a year through 2020.
"We started talking to the Museum of Natural History around March of last year, and they really wanted a place to house these exhibitions that aren't normally seen out here," says Fred Merrill, 56, president of Merrill Companies.