By Roxie Hammill
Plans for a five-story office and entertainment complex in downtown Overland Park moved forward Monday as the city council directed its staff to research a tax increment financing proposal, with a public hearing possible for January 22.
The council will decide next month whether to set the public hearing date to create a TIF district for the $48.5 million project, which has been compared in concept to Kansas City’s Power and Light district.
The Edison district, as it is being called, would put about 109,000 square feet of office space and 12,000 square feet of retail at the southwest corner of 80th and Marty Streets. The project would include the five-story office building and a two-story restaurant court separated by an open space, possibly with a big screen available for outdoor events and dining. Developer Overland Park Real Estate LLC also propose a 329-vehicle parking garage that has been mentioned as a solution to tight parking on Farmers’ Market weekends. A plan to move the market to Santa Fe Commons Park hinges on weekend use of the Edison parking garage.
With little discussion, the council unanimously voted to spend more staff time investigating the tax increment financing. Council members were told at an earlier committee meeting that the developers also intend to ask for a community improvement taxing district and economic development revenue bonds to exempt some building expenses from sales tax. But ultimately the project depends on approval of the tax increment financing, they were told.
Council member Paul Lyons said during the committee meeting that he’d received some emails from residents who feared the project was too big to suit the character of Overland Park’s downtown. Lyons was absent from Monday full council meeting.
The project has a few legal complications. Part of the proposed TIF district lies within an existing district for Market Lofts. But there’s no construction on that part for the Market Lofts project, so it could be transferred to the Edison District, according to the city’s legal advisor.
Work appears to be underway to have the commercial buildings that would be demolished under the plan vacant and ready for construction work on the site to begin. Nearly all of the stores in the Woodson Shops strip that fronts 80th Street between Marty and Overland Park Drive, including the Complete Traveler and Daylight Donuts, have ceased operations in their former spaces over the last several weeks and relocated. Bambou Salon and Spa is among the few businesses still running in the building, and will be relocating to the former Monogram Shop building a few hundred feet to the west soon.