Ten years later, a look at where Vision Metcalf’s recommendations for northern Overland Park stand

Jay Senter - March 6, 2018 11:01 am
Construction has been a constant presence in Downtown Overland Park the past several years as developers have worked to put in new residential and mixed-use projects.

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.

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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.

Today, we’ll start with the northern two sections of the plan, the Northern Gateway and Downtown Overland Park districts that stretch from I-35 down to 87th Street.

Northern Gateway

The vacant Ramada Inn off Shawnee Mission Parkway is set to be redeveloped with a new hotel, storage facility and retail.
Sketches of the types of streetscape enhancements envisioned for the Northern Gateway neighborhoods in the 2008 plan.

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.

What’s happened:

  • 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.
An overhead view of the project plan for the former Ramada site.

Downtown Overland Park

A 2008 rendering of a concept for the future of the Overland Park Farmers Market.

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 Avenue80 mixed use project.

What’s happened:

Tomorrow we’ll look at how Vision Metcalf’s prescriptions for the 95th and Metcalf area have played out.

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