In 2008, the Overland Park city council adopted Vision Metcalf, a broad strokes guide to how Kansas’s second-largest city could set about revitalize the aging thoroughfare that cuts through its heart, connecting burgeoning development south of I-435 with its established neighborhoods in the north.
It laid out a series of ambitious goals: Creating a series of unique destinations that mixed commercial, retail and residential property; connecting different pockets along the corridor with improved transportation infrastructure; making walking easier and more pleasant; and expanding green space with new parks and plazas.
Ten years later, much work has been done to advance those goals, according to a status report marking a decade since the plan was adopted. But some of Vision Metcalf’s “to-dos” remain unaccomplished or have become irrelevant.
Over the next three days, we’ll be looking at the work that’s advanced the goals of Vision Metcalf, and where the most notable deficits lie.
What Vision Metcalf called for:
- Enhancements to the streetscape “that creates and identity for the neighborhoods,” as well as the creation of a “gateway” treatment that would signal to motorists that they were entering OP and the Metcalf Corridor.
- Improved transit access at major intersections and the creation of a bus rapid transit (BRT) operation that would start at the northern gateway and run south all along the Metcalf corridor.
- The redevelopment of two aging commercial properties: the Ramada Inn at the northwest corner of the intersection of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Metcalf; a single story office building at the southeast corner of the intersection.
- None of the streetscape elements have been added.
- There have been some upgrades to bus terminals in the area. But since the plan was approved, management of Johnson County’s public transportation system has shifted to the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. “As such, KCATA makes decisions based on existing demands of transit users throughout the region,” reads the city’s update report. “An implementation plan looked further at the development of a BRT route, but at this time, there are no plans for a BRT route.”
- The city has approved a preliminary plan to demolish the vacant Ramada Inn and replace it with a new hotel, a storage facility, and some retail and restaurant space. The developer has requested approximately $6 million in public finance incentives for the $39 million project. A public hearing on the proposal is set for March 19.
- No redevelopment has occurred on the site of the office building mentioned in the Vision Metcalf plan.
Downtown Overland Park
What Village Vision called for:
- Revitalizing the Overland Park Farmers’ Market with new structures and adjacent green space.
- Adding mixed-use building and a municipal parking structure.
- Creation of a “network of interesting places to shop and live, while preserving the area’s historic character.”
- Become a “modern hub of car dealerships and auto-retailed services, proving that car dealerships can become an exciting and integrated part of the urban fabric.”
- The city took over ownership of the Overland Park Farmers’ Market in 2010, giving the city oversight of vendors and setting the stage for consideration of redevelopment. But what to do with the aging market facilities is a point of contention. After a year-long study, a consultant last month recommended moving the market to nearby Santa Fe Commons. But city staff said the recommendation was too controversial to advance, and called for continued efforts to build consensus on a plan.
The idea envisioned in the 2008 plan to create a “green” adjacent to the existing Farmers’ Market structure (see the graphic above) was not included in the options advanced by the consultants. (Though the city did just purchase the car wash next to the market shed, property that it would need if it were to pursue such an idea).
- Several mixed-use projects have been proposed and are in various stages of completion. Parts of the Avenue 80 mixed-use project at Metcalf and 80th Street opened last year. Hunt Midwest is building a 219-unit apartment-over-retail project called The Vue at 80th and Marty. And the city is considering an office-and-entertainment project called The Edison for land around the current Overland Park Presbyterian Church building. (And that’s just a partial list of the projects in the works).
- New businesses like Brew Lab have helped establish downtown as a destination for food-and-drink lovers. The Culinary Center of Kansas City, on Santa Fe Drive, continues to attract people from all over the metro.
- There are parking structures associated with some of the mixed-use projects, but no city-operated parking projects at this point, and parking continues to be a stressor for downtown patrons.
- Car dealerships continue to be a significant feature along the corridor, with Volvo recently taking over a dealership property just off 79th Street.
Tomorrow we’ll look at how Vision Metcalf’s prescriptions for the 95th and Metcalf area have played out.