Sheri McNeil has a big idea for Roeland Park. The Roeland Park City Council member wants to see the Roe family home rebuilt – with a restaurant and a coffee shop and meeting room.
Perhaps not the same layout as the 16-room house that used to sit at the northwest corner of Johnson Drive and Roe Blvd., but a replica of what the house looked like.
The Roe house, last occupied by two of John Roe’s daughters, Isabella and Margaret, was built in 1891 on the property that was purchased by Commerce Bank. Roeland Park and Mission own the vacant land on the northeast corner of the intersection and are looking for ways to redevelop it.
McNeil says that all of the resident surveys she has researched consistently show that Roeland Park residents want to see a restaurant, a coffee shop and more community meeting space in the city. She envisions a restaurant occupying the bottom floor of the building and a small coffee shop and meeting room on the second floor.
“I don’t know if it’s even got a chance,” McNeil says. “It’s something Roeland Park could be proud of.”
She mentioned the idea to a few people who had a positive reaction, she says, and has worked with council member Michael Poppa to flesh out the idea. Her plan has plenty of green space around the historic replica with an orchard and garden. A barn-like structure could even fit on the approximately 3-acre property to hold events, McNeil suggests.
The original house, which was a place for “social gatherings for miles around,” according to one history, lasted until the late 1950s. The Roe family, for whom the city is named. included four daughters and two sons. The surviving two sisters were moved to a house on W. 53rd Street when the family home was torn down.
According to McNeil’s research, John Roe had a farm of about 1,600 acres and at one time owned property that stretched from what is now Mission Rd. to Nall and 47th St. to 64th St. He bought acreage from the Shawnee Indian Mission in the early 1880s.
McNeil has presented the idea to the city redevelopment committee. The city is working with CBC Real Estate to come up with marketable ideas for the land.
“I am pretty passionate about this idea,” McNeil says. She would like to see the city keep ownership and lease it to an operator, but says she does not know how the finances of such a proposal might work. If it worked, though, it would be something unique for Roeland Park, McNeil says.