With final approvals in hand, developer preparing to raze hotels on Shawnee Mission Parkway for Metcalf Crossing project

An overhead view of the project plan for the former Ramada and Knights Inn site.

The Metcalf Crossing project that will raze two shuttered hotels at Metcalf Avenue and Shawnee Mission Parkway got its final go-ahead from the city Monday so demolition can begin this year.

Overland Park City Council members unanimously approved the special taxing districts and redevelopment project plan for the northwest corner of that intersection. The developer, Wes Grammer of Sky Real Estate, will replace the two hotels with one smaller one, a self-storage facility and later, a commercial building.

Overland Park City Councilman Dave White said the project was a good use of tax increment financing.

“The thing that’s exciting about this entire project is that it is a classic (tax increment financing) project,” that uses public incentives to improve a blighted area, said councilmember David White. “This one is truly an investment, folks. We’re investing in a corner that’s troubled and I think we’re going to get a good product out of it.”

The hotels, closed at the end of last year, were an ongoing concern because of the number of police complaints and code violations they generated. Before they officially closed, some people were staying long-term at the hotels.

The $39 million project will remove the Ramada Inn and Knights Inn and replace them with a smaller, 90-room, four-story hotel to be completed by the end of 2022. The 76,560-square-foot storage facility is to be completed by the end of 2020. Completion on the commercial part of the development will depend on when tenants are signed.

Although some had questioned whether another hotel and self-storage facility is really the best that corner can do, most were pleased that the public financing fit the city’s policy. Development on the five-acre property comes with a tax increment financing district to generate about $2.9 million and a one-percent sales tax in the area, beginning July 1, 2020, that would generate another $3 million.

About 80 percent of the tax increment – the amount generated from rising property values as a result of the development – will go to development costs. The city limits TIFs to 90 percent.

In previous meetings, council members have also been concerned that the commercial part of the development, which comes last, might never get built. But Monday night White pointed out that the developer will need to build the retail part of the project to ensure sales tax revenue for the development costs. “If the developer doesn’t build something that generates sales tax, they can’t meet their bottom line,” said White.

Mayor Carl Gerlach said he was glad the hotels will be redone quickly and that the area won’t degrade with the hotels sitting empty for years.

“Is the redevelopment everything we wanted? Maybe not, maybe so for some but not for others. But it is redevelopment and will be much better than what is sitting on it right now,” he said.

Councilmember Faris Farassati, who has been skeptical of some other recent development proposals, said he was encouraged that the project matches the city’s public financing criteria. He told council members he hopes they will use the same logic in considering future projects.

“So with the same logic that we are so encouraged and enthusiastic with this project, I hope we will be very critical about the other ones that don’t match such criteria,” he said.

The council opened two public hearings before approving the plan but no one stepped forward to speak.