Merriam begins exploring moves to jump start redevelopment of old Kmart site along Shawnee Mission Parkway

The old Kmart building in Merriam would have been torn down and replaced with a Menards under the plan proposed by the company.
The old Kmart building in Merriam would have been torn down and replaced with a Menards under the plan that was abandoned earlier this year.

Merriam is starting to look at how it might set in motion the potential redevelopment of the old Kmart site along heavily-traveled Shawnee Mission Parkway.

Earlier this year, Menards walked away from a plan to demolish the Kmart building and construct a store that was billed to be the largest home improvement store in Kansas. By the time it scuttled the plans, Menards had already asked the city to expand the redevelopment district that ends just across the street to the west of the property and had filed a $6 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) application.

The building has now been vacant for three years, Merriam City Administrator Phil Lammers told the city council Monday night. “Someone is going to ask for incentives.” Both Lammers and Mayor Ken Sissom said the property will be expensive to develop.

“This is an example of a piece of property that does need a TIF incentive,” Sissom said. “I can’t imagine them saving that building.” The steep grade and potential excavation issues may have played a part in the Menards decision.

The city is considering extending the nearby TIF district even before a proposal is made on the property. That would begin removing the hurdles to redevelopment. The council agreed that city staff should begin conversations with other taxing units, especially the school district and county, about the possibility of a TIF development. Both the school district and county can veto the establishment of a TIF district, but do not have control over a subsequent development agreement.

Redevelopment of the property is part of the council goals. The city’s comprehensive plan includes a vision for the property as potentially a more dense, mixed use redevelopment, Lammers said. Sharing that plan would be part of the discussion with the schools and county.

The approximately 13-acre property is smaller than the 16.2 acres at the Mission Gateway or the Village and Corinth shops which both run more than 17 acres each.