The rumors were true.
Representatives of VanTrust Real Estate, Johnson County and Prairie Village on Thursday afternoon addressed a full crowd in a room with a sweeping view of the Meadowbrook golf course to announce a collaborative effort to turn 88 acres of the shuttered country club into a county park. The remaining part of the 136 acre property would be used for housing development and public rights-of-way.
The conceptual drawing released by the group shows a site plan in which the northern part of the golf course would be preserved as green park space, with two housing developments built on either side of a significant water featured that would be created by expanding the golf course water hazards currently extending from the center of the course to its southern edge. The clubhouse would be retained as a new community center that would be operated by Johnson County Parks and Recreation. Johnson County Parks and Recreation would also administer the park and own the park land.
The housing developments would feature a group of town homes and a “new concept” senior living facility in the southwest corner. On the east of the water feature would be a series of single family home lots, more town homes, a luxury apartment complex, and a small inn. Richard Muller of VanTrust said the inn as currently envisioned would have 35 rooms. It would be the first hotel in Prairie Village.
“While there remains a whole lot of work left to do, this isn’t a pie in the sky idea,” said Muller . “Since making the difficult decision to close this club last year, we at VanTrust have been studying innumerable redevelopment plans for this property. What we ended up doing wasn’t necessarily focusing on the most obvious redevelopment plan or even the most profitable redevelopment plan. What we ended up doing was what Dave Harrison in our office refers to as ‘doing right by the dirt.'”
The yet-to-be-named park would be twice the size of the nearest county park in the area, Antioch Park in Merriam, and larger than Loose Park in Kansas City, Mo. It would, in fact, be larger than all of the city parks in Prairie Village put together:
County Commission Chair Ed Eilert stressed that the deal was far from final, and that a number of steps still need to be completed before anything was set in stone. Before the county and VanTrust can finalize the transfer of the land, the city of Prairie Village will need to approve rezoning of the parcels of land slated for the housing developments from R1-a to mixed use. Once the rezoning is complete, VanTrust could begin the transfer of land and submit formal plans for the development projects. Prairie Village will be the entity to initially acquire the land and community center and will immediately transfer it to the county.
The city, county and VanTrust have not worked out a final purchase price for the land at this point.
Muller said that, if things work smoothly, the start of construction would be possible by the end of this year and the park could be open for county patron use by 2017.
VanTrust, Johnson County and Prairie Village have already scheduled two public open houses to gather input from area residents on the idea. They will be 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, and 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 11.
Lots more coverage coming tomorrow morning.