By Andy Graham
While Overland Park firefighters battled a fiery wreck on eastbound 435 near U.S. 69, the Overland Park City Council held a public hearing to discuss the future of a planned development down the road, just northeast of the 435 and Metcalf exit.
The council voted 11-0 to designate the 4.4-acre site as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Redevelopment District to pave the way for Metcalf 108, a mixed-use project consisting of a 150,000-square-foot office complex with adjoining parking structure, and a 123-room Staybridge Suites hotel. The vote also approved rezoning of the property from a single-family residential district to a planned office building district.
Frequently referred to as the “Gateway to Overland Park” throughout the meeting, the development will help meet the demand for office space and more hotel rooms in the city. However, Metcalf 108 representative Curt Petersen, a real estate attorney at Polsinelli Shughart PC, said the whole project hinges on receiving public funding support for the 600-space parking structure.
“This is solely about the office building and parking structure. It has nothing to do with the hotel side,” he said. “The office and parking structure go together, and we will not have parking without (creation of) this district. I say that with 100 percent certainty.”
Staybridge Suites is the intended hotel operator, and will be developed by a third party after the six-story office building and parking structure are built. The property’s previous hotel, 435 Overland Park Place Hotel, closed last year.
Overland Park mayoral candidate Charlotte O’Hara, an outspoken opponent of public financing projects, said there are already too many TIFs in the city.
“I implore you not to create this district,” she said to councilmembers. “We already have so many TIFs that impact school funding.”
Additional issues council addressed related to the project focused heavily on architecture. Members voiced concerns that the hotel’s design should not only match the office building and parking structure, but reflect Overland Park’s brand. Councilmember Dan Stock described the renderings as “very corporate and cookie-cutter.”
“If this is going to be a ‘gateway’ project, it should be elegant and materials should be world-class on both buildings,” he said.
The motion that passed Monday night established the formation of a TIF district, which allows the developer to ask for TIF funding. No TIF funds have been approved or designated for the $70 million project.
Petersen said they hope to begin construction on the hotel phase at the end of this year, opening in 2018. The office tower and parking garage would be part of a second phase that would start construction once they attract enough tenants to meet 50 percent occupancy. Phase two would take approximately two years to complete.