Westwood lands help to determine future of park, church and Entercom property; school integral to the planning

Westwood Christian Church on Rainbow Blvd. sits just to the south of the city park and east of Westwood View Elementary.
Westwood Christian Church on Rainbow Blvd. sits just to the south of the city park and east of Westwood View Elementary. It is now owned by the city and closed as a church.

Westwood has been chosen for a new program that will provide technical assistance from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) on how the city might best proceed with the former church at 5050 Rainbow, the adjacent city park and the nearby Entercom property.

The city now owns the former Westwood Christian Church will abuts Dennis Park along Rainbow Blvd. Both of those properties are adjacent to the Westwood View Elementary School. Across the street from the school is the nearly eight-acre Entercom property, which is privately owned and has been the subject of a development proposal in recent weeks.

Westwood was a successful applicant for the Kansas City District Council of the ULI’s inaugural Technical Assistance Program (TAP) which will bring together expertise in land use, real estate, finance, design, building reuse and market feasibility. The service is provided free to the city. The city also has a park consultant working on ideas to improve the park.

“I can’t believe we actually landed this,” said Westwood Mayor John Yé. “A lot of work will go into this.” The experts on loan to the city will do preliminary work to understand the issues and then hold a one-day onsite work session to prepare findings and recommendations. The TAP will make a public presentation on its recommendations. It is anticipated that will come in April.

The agreement with ULI lists the following primary question to be answered: “Considering its proximity to the elementary school and the city’s long term goal to increase school enrollment, what is the best and most innovative redevelopment options for 5050 Rainbow & the Park property?”

Two secondary questions also are part of the agreement with the city if time allows:
“1. What is the estimated fair market value (residential and commercial) for development of the two properties along Rainbow Blvd? What is the estimated fair market potential for redeveloping the 8-acre Entercom property into the different suggested land uses?

2. What might be the estimated costs to rehabilitate the 5050 Rainbow building or tear it down? Estimated costs to update and expand the park including removal and/or rehabilitation of the 5050 building?”

The Westwood Planning Commission did not move forward with zoning text amendments at its recent meeting which would have opened the possibility of a senior living development on the Entercom property.