Residents voice concerns about Mission Valley senior living proposal

Joe Tutera fielded questions from the audience at Thursday’s citywide public meeting on the proposal to build a senior living community on the Mission Valley site.

Destruction of green space. Lack of fit with the surrounding neighborhoods. Oversaturation in the market. Deleterious impact on home values.

These were among the concerns expressed Thursday at a citywide meeting on the Tutera Group’s proposal to build a $50 million, 376-unit senior living community on the site of Mission Valley Middle School in Prairie Village.

And those concerns could spell trouble for the developer in light of the City Council’s passage on Tuesday of an ordinance granting neighbors surrounding the property the right to protest if and when the group files a Special Use Permit application with the city.

Should homeowners representing 20 percent of the area surrounding the school sign on to a protest petition, a 3/4 supermajority of the Prairie Village City Council would ultimately be required to move the project forward.

Tutera Group principal Joe Tutera and attorney John Petersen presented their plans for the site to a group of community members for the third time in less than two weeks, stressing their sensitivity to the surrounding area and their intent to build a facility that would meet or exceed the city’s design guidelines for greenspace and setbacks.

But several members of the audience raised concerns about the suitability of the site for a large senior living facility. Ron Mayer, who owns the Sole Patch Barbershop in Corinth Square, just north of the Mission Valley site, went so far as to suggest that the developers should completely reconsider their approach, and look into a development in the style of “New Urbanist” mixed use properties.

“A senior living community would only reflect one sector of our community,” Mayer said. “I’ve seen so many times that when developments only go after one aspect of the community, those projects fail over time.”

Petersen, however, dismissed calls from Mayer and others who suggested better uses for the space.

“That’s not the business we’re in, and that’s not the purpose the site was bought for,” Petersen said.

The Prairie Village Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a work session on the proposal Feb. 5. Though public comment will not be permitted at that work session, a public hearing on the issue is likely at the March 5 Planning Commission meeting.