Prairie Village has its eye on bringing another park to the city — this time on the north side.
The city has made an offer to purchase the three-acre property of the Faith Lutheran Church at 67th Street and Roe Avenue. But, the church has other offers for the land besides the city’s. If it accepts a higher offer from someone who wants to develop the corner, it could put an end to the dream of a new park on the city’s northwest side.
In a July letter to the church council, Prairie Village Mayor Laura Wassmer communicated an offer of $875,000 for the property and said the intended use would be to turn it into a park. The property is currently listed on a commercial real estate site for a $1,950,000 asking price, reportedly reduced considerably from the original listing.
Although additional planning would be required, the letter included a rendering of how a park on the site potentially could be laid out. It said the city anticipates an investment of another $900,000 over time to construct a public park if it is successful in acquiring the property.
Bob Lindeblad, who is the president of the church council at Faith Lutheran, said the congregation in February authorized the church council to enter into an agreement to sell. A number of proposals have been received, he said, but there is no timeframe to complete a transaction.
The church now has a “small congregation and a large facility,” Lindeblad said. The church also houses the Astra Day School, which is a service of The Kansas City Autism Training Center.
What happens to the money from a sale is a congregation decision, Lindeblad said. Wassmer’s letter indicates that all or part of the money could go to charity: “We also understand your council’s desire for a sales price that will allow you to make a generous contribution to charity,” the letter states.
The land is zoned for single-family housing. To construct something other than single-family houses would require rezoning or a Special Use Permit. A few other uses, such as senior housing, a hospital or day care, are possible with an SUP, but take council approval.
A project with density greater than single family could be required by a purchaser hoping to turn a profit, depending on the sale price. The intention of other bidders for the property is not known. The church sits on a corner lot and bumps up against single-family homes on both sides.
“We’re going through a process, Lindeblad said, of the direction for the congregation in the future.
The neighborhood from the church north to the city limit has long been designated as a future service area in the park master plan and has been cited as one of the most underserved park areas in the city. Wassmer noted in her letter that only 3.8 percent of the city’s total area is devoted to public parks and that the city council believes it is essential to quality of life to increase that number.
The city most recently has been instrumental in acquiring a portion of the Meadowbrook Country Club for a future county park. That property is on the city’s southern border, though, the opposite end from the three acres owned by Faith Lutheran.
The city’s letter is not binding and if the church decided to pursue that offer, it would need to be negotiated by the city and approved in a public vote by the city council. Likewise, a full park planning process would need to be undertaken, including public input, if the city acquires the property. The drawing is only a concept to give an idea of scope and scale.
The city’s offer letter was obtained through a records request. The city council has met in executive session to discuss land acquisition in recent months.
Lindeblad said the first of the church buildings on the site dates to the early 1950s. The real estate listing says it has more than 35,000 square feet in the building on 2.97 acres and has 1961 as the date for the church.
The property now has two large parking lots on either side of the building.
The city’s letter is embedded below: