Developer gets extension on completion deadline for downtown OP Market Lofts project, but patience wearing thin among some on council

A rendering of the Market Lofts, which had been initially scheduled to open this year.
A rendering of the Market Lofts, which had been initially scheduled to open this year.

By Roxie Hammill

The developer of Market Lofts, an apartment and retail project in the works since before the recession, will get a break on the deadline to complete construction by December 31. But the six-month extension will likely be the last, says Overland Park City Councilman Dave White.

White has warned developer Paul Goehausen that if the project isn’t completed by the new July 31 deadline, he risks losing 10 percent of the $1.1 million in tax increment financing from the city.

“We want to get the project done,” White said after the city council approved the extension. “If he comes back July 31 and hasn’t gotten it done I can’t predict what will happen.”

Market Lofts, a $9.2 million development at the northwest corner of 80th and Marty Streets, will consist of 36 apartment units, 6,000 square feet of retail and structured parking.

But getting it done has proved a steep mountain to climb for Goehausen. The project was conceived in the mid 2000’s as a condo development and the TIF district was created in 2008. But it was shelved shortly after due to the recession.

Market Lofts reemerged a few years later in its mixed-use form, and construction has begun. But Goehausen asked for the extension because of problems burying the utility lines. Recent hurricanes caused delay because Kansas City Power and Light crews went to Houston and Florida to help restore power, he told a council committee. They also ran into unexpected problems with the power line burial itself.

The company lost about six months due to those problems, Goehausen said. Construction resumed Oct. 15 after that delay.

The council on Monday unanimously approved the deadline extension with no discussion, but afterward White said his patience is running thin. He said the city has penalized a developer in the past for not meeting its timeline. White is vice-chair of the council committee that reviews tax incentives for development.

He acknowledged that some of the delays couldn’t be helped. But he also noted that the engineering problems that caused them could have been investigated during the recession lull.

In one case, he said, builders had to correct a problem that could have caused the collapse of the building next door.

“I was critical of them for not doing their due diligence when they had the opportunity,” White said.

In any case, he said, he’s grown tired of waiting, saying the development sat for too long after its initial approval on the formerly bare corner. “It was an embarrassment to downtown.”

“You get frustrated,” he said. “We’ve got the project, we’ve given you incentives. Let’s get it done.”