After developer backs away from initial plans, ‘disappointed’ Roeland Park councilmembers ponder next steps for northeast corner of Johnson Drive and Roe

A rendering of the original three-story proposal looking west on Johnson Drive.
A rendering of the original three-story proposal looking west on Johnson Drive.

By Holly Cook

The real estate company in talks with Roeland Park to build on the northeast corner of Johnson Drive and Roe no longer wants to develop the three-story mixed-use concept it initially proposed, and instead wants to construct two single-story buildings with an inline retail approach.

Colliers International decided to change the concept after conducting a profitability report, Roeland Park city administrator Keith Moody said Monday during the governing body workshop.

Moody said Colliers’ report found that a three-story vertical mixed-use concept would not be profitable, even with the use of TIF/CID funds. The city has not yet conducted its own profitability research on potential design concepts, Moody noted.

Roeland Park councilmembers did not have a positive response to the change of plans and unanimously agreed they were not interested in receiving a letter of intent outlining the single-story concept from Colliers.

“We already backed down on what we consider mixed-use for the bank site so I think we should hang on to this and see what the cost analysis turns out to be,” said councilmember Teresa Kelly, referencing the development on the northwest corner of Johnson and Roe.

Councilmembers reiterated their support of the three-story mixed-use concept Colliers presented in June and generally agreed they would also be open to a two-story concept.

“When I looked at it I said that is what I want here,” said councilmember Michael Rhoades.

Rhoades pointed out that while the three-story concept was preferable to councilmembers, the city needs to move forward with developing something economically feasible so the site doesn’t end up as just “a piece of grass” for years, like what has happened with the Mission Gateway.

Moody noted that a developer may find a three-story concept profitable if the city lowered the cost of the land.

Councilmember Sheri McNeil agreed the city should continue to look for a developer that would offer amenities desired by Roeland Park residents, like a restaurant.

“I’m real disappointed in this whole thing,” she said.

Councilmember Michael Poppa agreed.

“I don’t think anyone is really excited about anything on the table tonight,” he said.

Moody said once the city had performed its own profitability research it could take a closer look at Colliers’ report and have a better informed discussion.