Roeland Park council shows frustration, gives Commerce Bank sixth construction extension for Roe property

Commerce Bank has been unable to land another tenant for the property at Johnson Drive and Roe.
Commerce Bank has been unable to land another tenant for the property at Johnson Drive and Roe.

Commerce Bank got another six-month extension on its deadline to start vertical construction at the northwest corner of Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue this week, but council members let the bank know they are frustrated with the delays. It is the sixth extension since the bank entered into a development agreement with the city in 2012 for the property.

At one point the council shortened the extension, but then repealed its own action.

“I don’t want to see you here again asking for an extension,” Councilor Michael Rhoades told Brent Hall of Commerce during council discussions this week. For each extension the bank has paid the city $5,000 to compensate for lost property tax.

Hall told councilors that the bank has finally found another business to share the property. “We’re finally making some progress here, I promise.” After the land purchase from the city, Commerce decided it wanted to share the space with another tenant, but has been unable to land that business. Hall said a user has been found and Commerce expects to revise plans soon, likely dividing the three acres into two lots.

Hall would not reveal the tenant because a contract is not signed and he was not sure if that user will generate sales tax, which brought concern from Councilor Sheri McNeil.

The bank is sharing the cost of a new intersection at the property which will give turnout access for both sides of Roe. Hall said the lack of access had deterred other interested parties, but now several businesses are interested.

Hall also said Commerce had revised the size of its own building down from 4,200 square feet to 2,500 square feet. City Administrator Keith Moody said the sales agreement outlines the city is looking for a building that is unique and has character, in keeping with the entrance to the city. Both buildings should meet that criteria, Moody said,

When the council took up the extension for a final vote, Rhoades moved to amend it to expire on June 1, making it a three-month extension, but requiring the same payment. The council approved that change, but then passed a motion to reconsider and went back to six months with a requirement Hall report in at each council meeting.

Teresa Kelly made the motion to reconsider after expressing concern that the bank was being set up for failure with the new deadline.