By Roxie Hammill
An office, retail and entertainment center that has been compared in concept to Kansas City’s Power and Light district is being proposed for downtown Overland Park.
The $48.5 million project would include a five-story office building, a two-story food hall building, parking garage, surface parking and outdoor gathering space at the southwest corner of 80th Street and Marty Street. If approved, it will become a commanding presence in the heart of a downtown of small shops and eateries.
“I don’t want to use the term Power and Light District because this is a little bit more family oriented than that,” said development attorney John Petersen as he reviewed the project for the city council’s finance and economic development committee Wednesday night. But the development would have a similar outdoor gathering area, perhaps with alcohol sales.
The project is in its beginning stages and is set to be considered by the city planning commission next month, Petersen said. The finance committee was briefed in order to start the process for a tax increment financing district.
The Edison district was conceived by developer Overland Park Real Estate, LLC. Tim Barton, founder of freight brokerage firm Freightquote and Matt Druten, former Freightquote president, are the principals.
The project would be on 3.3 acres of land that is now occupied by single-story retail, a city parking lot and a vacant Presbyterian church. The southern end is across from Santa Fe Commons Park, which has been mentioned as a possible new location for the farmers’ market. Petersen said the developer would be open to allowing public parking in the development on weekends, which would help ease parking problems if the market is moved.
Altogether, there would be 109,000 square feet of office space and 12,000 square feet of retail.
There are several components to the development. The office building with some first-floor retail is farthest east, at the 80th and Marty corner. Just to the west would be a two-story “food hall” with kiosks and an open deck during warm weather. An outdoor gathering area is envisioned for the space between the two buildings. It would be a possible venue for concerts and would also have a large screen for outdoor movie or sports viewing. There would be a 41-space surface parking lot farther west that could also be used for art fairs or additional farmers’ market space, Petersen said.
Developers plan a structured parking garage for 329 vehicles at the southern end of the development. Most of that space would be dedicated to the office workers during the week, but Petersen said the off-hours use could help the city deal with tight parking problems on weekends.
Parking was a key issue in a discussion Monday about the future of the farmers’ market. A consultant-backed plan to move the market to Santa Fe Commons Park depends on use of that parking.
Developers will negotiate for some public financing of the project in the form of tax increment financing, a community improvement sales tax district and bonds to exempt sales tax on materials. No amount has been officially asked on the TIF district, but paperwork filed on it suggested $6 million of the project would be TIF eligible and $2.8 million CID eligible.
Discussions on the public financing are still fluid, but the five committee members present voted unanimously to have city staff move begin to work up an agreement with the developers for further consideration. The full council will review the committee’s recommendation Monday, and a public hearing could be scheduled as early as Jan. 22.
Council member Dave White noted that the developer is asking for 100 percent of the TIF revenue, which is higher than city policy currently allows. “That’s a non-starter for me,” White said. However committee members voted to continue to explore the idea.
“This is probably the single greatest application we’ve had for downtown Overland Park,” said council member Dan Stock. “There’s a lot of opportunity here.”
But council member Paul Lyons said he’s already getting negative feedback from people worried about the impact of such a big development. “They’re concerned about how big the building is going to be,” he said. “There is an opinion out there that says maybe we’re doing too much in downtown Overland Park.”