At some point Thursday evening, Joe Tutera likely had a new appreciation for the plight of stand up comics trying out unproven material in a room dotted with hecklers.
Because the Tutera Group’s president found the 75 community residents packed into the SM East cafeteria to hear his pitch for a reconfigured Mission Chateau senior living community to be an especially tough crowd.
For two hours, Tutera stood before the group explaining the myriad tweaks the company had made to the initial Mission Chateau plans: a reduction in square footage of more than 40,000, a lowering of the building height, an increased buffer between the main facility and the neighboring homes, and an increase in park-like spaces, among others.
The neighbors’ response? Not enough.
Time and again audience members expounded on their continued concerns with the overall scope of the project and the impact it would have on the currently ample greenspace that borders their properties.
“Let’s say you’re a doctor who’s got a morbidly obese patient,” said area resident Whitney Kerr, a member of the Mission Valley Neighbors Association, during a discussion of the reduction in square footage. “He’s 340 pounds. If he loses some weight and gets down to 300, he’s still morbidly obese.”
Charles Shollenberger, a frequently outspoken community member who lives several blocks north of the Mission Valley site, elicited one of the crowd’s biggest rounds of applause when he asked Tutera, “Where does this end?”
“After eight community meetings or however many it’s been, isn’t it clear that your plan isn’t flying? Are you just trying to wear us down? Is there no end to this? Don’t you understand that your plan in just not acceptable? And why don’t you try some other plan?” he said.
Tutera on several occasions rebuffed the refrain that the company should look to sell the site to a school. While he continued to defend the vibrancy and purported benefits to the neighborhood of the planned senior living community, he did acknowledge that there was at least some chance the site could be developed into single family residences if the senior living community plans failed — but he noted that those homes would likely be rental properties with features that would not make them attractive to neighboring homeowners.
“You may not like the ideas we’ve put out there,” Tutera told the group. “But there are a lot of people who think providing high quality housing for seniors is a noble cause.”
The Tutera Group is likely to bring its final proposal for Mission Chateau back before the Prairie Village Planning Commission for consideration August 6.