By Roxie Hammill
The Overland Park City Council shook hands this week on a deal to buy a downtown car wash that could figure into future plans for the Farmers’ Market.
Council members emerged from executive session Monday night with the announcement that the city would buy the Dyna-Jet Car Wash at 7910 Marty Street for $600,000, pending an environmental inspection. If it passes the inspection, the city would begin demolition this summer to create a temporary parking lot.
The unanimous vote does not commit the city to any of the options for improving the market, said Sean Reilly, city spokesman. Plans have been up in the air since a consultant recommended the market be relocated to nearby Santa Fe Commons Park — a proposal controversial enough that city officials have put that decision on hold.
The car wash, built in 1967, is adjacent and to the north of the market. According to county records, it is 3,780 square feet with a 2018 appraised value of $341,870. Owners are listed as Stanley and Nina Zabel of Leawood.
The city has been looking for ways to upgrade and correct some of the problems of the current market location. The sloping ground, drainage and wiring inadequacies are things that have been mentioned. The consultant was hired to look at those problems, as well as other amenities such as more parking and an enclosed space for events.
The car wash figures into two of four options proposed by the consultant. Both of those options would leave the market at its current location. The more expensive option, at $17 million, calls for a two-level parking garage built on the site, with a pavilion on top. The other one, for $6 million, would extend the market area along Marty Street with a wing that could be enclosed.
The decision to buy the car wash does not mean the city has chosen one of those two options, Reilly said. “All those options remain on the table.”
But the buy does put the city in a better position for the future, while at least temporarily easing some of the parking stress in the short term, say city officials. The council also has plans to upgrade the current facilities in the meantime.
Councilmember Curt Skoog said a decision on the future market location is not directly tied to the real estate deal. “It was an opportunistic purchase. The property came on the market,” he said, and owning it will make things easier if the city does decide to rebuild on the current location.
Although the purchase price was considerably higher than the appraised value, the council felt the price was fair because it gives the city a chance to expand property ownership in the core of Overland Park, Skoog said.
Council member Terry Happer Scheier agreed that the price was fair, given the hot real estate market downtown.
She underlined that the council has not made a decision about where the market will be located. But that said, the purchase is a great opportunity in case the council decides not to relocate it, she said. Happer Scheier, who lives about two blocks from downtown, says her personal preference is to keep the market in its current location close to the shops and clock tower.
Meanwhile, there’s no timeline established on how long the city will wait before making a decision on any bigger improvements to the market. That could take as long as three years, Skoog said, while city officials look for some agreement among the public, vendors and businesses.
“We’re being cautious,” Skoog said. “When you have a community event that’s so successful and so popular the last thing you want to do is mess it up.”