By Jerry LaMartina
The Lenexa City Council unanimously approved the final plan for three new buildings for restaurants, retail and offices, along with below-grade surface parking and open public space, at the southwest corner of 87th Street Parkway and Renner Boulevard in City Center.
Keith Copaken with Copaken Brooks Commercial Real Estate, the project’s developer, addressed the council Tuesday night and said that one of the three buildings will contain 20,000 square feet and house a restaurant and bank on the first floor and offices on the second floor, with each floor containing 10,000 square feet. Construction of that building is planned to start in August and be completed in May 2019.
One of the other buildings will contain 7,500 square feet and house two restaurants, and the other will contain 6,500 square feet and house three restaurants. A construction timeline hasn’t been set for these two buildings.
The Lenexa Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the project’s final plan at its Monday night meeting.
Ward 4 Councilman Andy Huckaba said that, based on architectural renderings, the buildings “felt a little boxy” and “a little like any other pad site that might be out there in Johnson County, and I want to make sure that people can see, especially in this pretty incredible entry point into City Center, that it’s something pretty special.” The project’s architectural firm is Klover Architects.
Ward 2 Councilman Thomas Nolte said he wanted to take a look at the project from “a historical perspective” of the whole City Center development.
“I was totally sold on the concept of City Center because of the imagery that those early drawings provided us to think about and bring you into an awareness that we can do this,” Nolte said.
He described the project’s early drawings as depicting Federal-style architecture with “an enduring nature” and said the council subsequently shifted to a more contemporary look.
“My concern with the contemporary bent is this: I looked at these pictures of what I thought was fashionable in the ‘70s, and I wouldn’t be caught dead in those clothes 40 years later,” he said. “So, design is fickle. … If I was going to push hard, I’d push for tabling, and I’d want to go back and look at some of these earlier ideas that we had that I thought were so unique.”
Nolte praised the project’s site design, though, as “forward-thinking,” including planning of the project’s phases, putting parking areas below grade, increasing density in the corridor and moving restaurants closer to the business district.
“I’m not opposed to this (final plan), but I’m truly looking for something unique at the end of the street that serves our retail corridor and mixed-use area,” he said, “and I’m totally looking for something that is a little bit more wow power on that point.”
He added that he hoped the developer “can bring to the table the tenants that can pay the freight.”
A three-story signature office building, two additional restaurant and retail buildings, and covered parking are planned for 87th and Renner in a later phase.