Westwood sees another business expansion ahead

The building near State Line Road that is the site of a proposed expansion.
The building near State Line Road that is the site of a proposed expansion.

Business expansion and new construction continue to occupy the agenda for Westwood, which has had a number of new building projects coming online or enter the planning phase in the last year.

In the latest iteration of that phase, the Midwest Transplant Network, which owns an office building at 47th Place and State Line Road, has approached the city about a tax abatement in the face of $12 million building project that would add 15,000 square feet and a parking garage to the existing space. MTN occupies only a portion of the building, according to Westwood city staff, but its occupancy percentage will likely increase after the construction.

At issue is the fact that MTN is a non-profit, but pays a full property tax load for the building rather than claiming any allowable exemption. MTN is a certified organ procurement organization. In the face of a substantial valuation increase of the building after construction, MTN has offered to keep paying the city the same property tax it does now for the next 10 years – not a higher post-construction amount. The building is currently valued at more than $5 million and has not increased significantly since 1997, but that could double with the expansion.

For Westwood, the MTN property represents 6.27 percent of the city’s current property valuation, Westwood City Clerk Fred Sherman told the council. The building permit fees alone for the project could reach $42,000, more than the annual $32,824 it now collects in tax. Mayor John Yé will head discussions with MTN and bring a proposal back to the council.

The council also was told the Walmart market at Mission Road and County Line, on the former Apple Market site, plans to open in the fourth quarter of this year. Additionally, Westwood has had three new house permits filed in less than a year and has seen expansion projects at the KU pharmacy and the planned Woodside Village retail/residential development on Rainbow in conjunction with the renovation at Woodside Health and Tennis Club.