By Roxie Hammill
Three Lenexa shopping centers along the Quivira Road corridor are ripe for redevelopment, possibly into “lifestyle centers,” according to consultants hired by the city to improve the looks and function of the corridor.
Development Strategies Inc., a St. Louis-based land use and market analyst, identified the Broadway Plaza , Orchard Corners and Oak Park Commons East centers as having redevelopment potential with a mixed-use design. A fourth, Four Colonies Plaza, could become an independent senior living center, the study said.
After looking at the two-and-a-half-mile stretch of road between 79th and 99th Streets, consultants also recommended that a transit park-and-ride area be moved from the northeast corner of the Oak Park Mall parking lot to 95th Street and Quivira Road. And they suggested improved lighting, multi-use bike and pedestrian trails and more pedestrian crossings on the heavily traveled road.
The recommendations were presented to the Lenexa City Council at a committee meeting Tuesday night as part of a months-long study on ways to make Quivira Road a more inviting place for shoppers and pedestrians. The city has been taking suggestions from stakeholders and citizens since September and Development Strategies and WSP USA, a Lenexa consultant, have analyzed the results. The study is partially paid for with a grant from the Mid-America Regional Council. The end result will be a planning guide for future development.
Quivira Road is part of Lenexa’s border with Overland Park. New apartment complexes have been built in the northern part that will add 480 units.
The shopping centers in question are all in Lenexa. A “lifestyle center” is a shopping area designed around an anchor of retail and public space that creates an open, walkable area with mixed use. Market analysis shows that lifestyle centers and “power centers” anchored around a large store have become preferable to strip center design, said Jennifer Pangborn-Dolde, of WSP USA.
The consultant identified sites developers might be interested in based on property values, vacancy rates and the type of developments people want, said Jennifer Pangborn-Dolde of WSP USA.
“What we’re seeing is that there’s not necessarily more retail that’s needed – we have a good amount of retail – but it’s the type of retail and the places that people want to go,” she said.
Broadway Plaza and Orchard Corners are next to each other at the south end of the corridor study area, on the west side of Quivira across from the mall and Target. The consultant said those two centers could be combined and redeveloped as a lifestyle center with 90 to 95 percent private financing.
The return was estimated to be $4.2 million a year in property taxes, she said.
The Oak Park Commons East center, at the corner of 95th Street and Quivira also has potential because of its larger area and more vacancies, she said. Redoing that area as a lifestyle center could also be done with mostly private financing and could return $3.2 million annually in property taxes, according to the study.
The Four Colonies Plaza area at 79th Street and Quivira is at the northern end of the study area. Development Strategies envisioned a senior living center or a mixed use area with senior living included. With a low cost per acre, that area could be developed completely with private money, the study said.
Whether any of those ideas actually happen is up to developers and the market. But the city could encourage it by including that type of development in its zoning for the area.
Making the area more inviting and safer for walkers, bicyclists and bus riders was also a key part of the study, which featured recommendations for improving trails, walkways and bus stops.
For instance many residents were unaware that public transit is available along the corridor, said Jay Aber, also of WSP USA. The city could look at ways to improve signs, add shelter or benches to “raise the profile and make using transit easier, more straightforward, more enjoyable experience,” he said.
Stakeholders also expressed an interest in working with the Kansas City Area Transit Authority to move the park-and-ride area. It now sits in a relatively isolated far corner of Oak Park Mall parking. Moving it west to Quivira would raise its visibility and also solve a problem for the bus drivers, who must take a circuitous route to the south to enter the parking area, he said.
Walking and bicycling could also be improved by adding bike lanes and widening trails and walkways along and connecting to Quivira, the consultants said. Trail connections to Turkey Creek trail and to Hidden Woods Park south of 83rd Street were also discussed.
Council members expressed interest in improving the walkway on the west side of Quivira. The consultant had suggested a better walkway on the east side, which is in Overland Park, because there are fewer driveways.
But Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm said he wants to keep the walkway on the Lenexa side, where there are more houses.
Because there is little room to work with between those houses and street, making a wider trail and green space buffer might mean that up to six houses would have to be removed, said Boehm. “I hate to say this because the pitchforks will come out,” he said. But if the houses closest to the street are removed, their neighbors will have green space and a buffer from the street, “and we’ve enhanced that neighborhood.”