The Immigration and Naturalization Service likes Lee's Summit.
So much that it recently announced its second location in the city, inside the Summit Technology Campus at Chipman and Blue Parkway.
The U. S. General Services Administration awarded a $26 million, five-year contract, with the option to renew for an additional five years, to Townsend Capital, the developer of the campus. The 1.3-million-square-foot campus will house the new INS Service Center.
The INS will occupy more than 139,000-square-feet of space and will employ nearly 550 individuals, said Sam Lombardo, spokesman for the GSA.
A main reason the INS chose the Lee's Summit campus location was its proximity to the INS National Records Center inside the 1.4-million-square-foot Space Center Summit, located north of the city on Lee's Summit Road.
The underground records center opened last year and employs 300 individuals in the 200,000-square-foot facility. The records center stores 18 million records known as A-files (alien files).
The INS Service Center is expected to be occupied by February 2002, said Greg Gagne, INS spokesman.
And as the INC moves in, Townsend Capital moves out of its finished office space in the South Building, located in the southwest corner. The INS will take over this space.
Rich Muller, Townsend assistant vice president, said Townsend's offices will move into space previously occupied by Payless Cashways.
Payless is in the process of liquidating its company. Just two years ago, Payless moved its headquarters to the Summit Technology Campus, taking up 185,000-square-feet of space.
Muller said Townsend recently reached an agreement with Payless for the home improvement company to move into a consolidated premise of approximately 45,000 square feet.
The INS Service Center, along with the National Records Center, will play crucial roles in working through new procedures spelled out in the recently passed Legal Immigration Family Equity Act, Gagne said.
The work inside the service center will involve data entry and the adjudication of naturalization applications, he said. The INS estimates more than 500,000 undocumented immigrants who live in the U. S. are eligible to become legal residents under the LIFE Act.
"It will take some careful review to make sure they fit the new criteria," Gagne said.
This work will not be affected by the new terrorist legislation passed by Congress, he said.
Gagne said the hiring process for the service center has begun through its personnel office in Kansas City. The process includes full security background checks, and he anticipates the new service center to be fully staffed by late spring.
The Lee's Summit Journal, Matt Bird-Meyer, November 7, 2001.