Shawnee approves public finance incentives district for proposed Bellmont Promenade project

One of Legacy Development’s renderings of the proposed Bellmont Promenade center.

Shawnee has taken a significant step to move the proposed Bellmont Promenade project at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road forward, approving the creation of a redevelopment district that could ultimately provide the developer with millions in public finance incentives.

The Shawnee council voted 6-1 at its Monday meeting to approve establishing the Bellmont Promenade Redevelopment District, a 26-acre stretch of land adjacent to the highly-trafficked I-435 corridor. The council had approved the creation of similar districts last year, but the developer ended up revising the plan.

Council member Mike Kemmling voted no. Council member Justin Adrian was absent.

Legacy Development, which is leading the project, is seeking tax increment financing (TIF) for a 20-year-period from the city to help finance the project. Bellmont also requests that the area be designated a community improvement district (CID) for a 22-year-period.

Details of the proposed public finance incentives package include:

  • The developer would get access to 90 percent of the proceeds of incremental property taxes from the project.
  • The developer has requested a 1.6 percent Community Improvement District sales tax be assessed at businesses in the center. The original proposal had called for a 1.3 percent CID sales tax.
  • The developer is requesting a special CID assessment that would generate approximately $265,000 annually.

The developer estimates a total of $19.5 million in expenses that would be reimbursable via the public finance incentives mechanisms. Total costs of the project are now estimated at about $92.6 million.

The plan, revised from the redevelopment plan approved by the city last year, would include 200,000 square feet of retail, commercial, inline shopping, or pad sites as well as 228 multifamily residential units integrated with approximately 12,000 square feet of commercial space. The addition of housing is new to the redevelopment plan.

“I think it is important to note that because of the reset of this, the Shawnee Mission School District will benefit by recapturing the 8 mills because of the change of the law last July 1; that didn’t affect our initial application,” said Greg Musil, a member of the Bellmont Promenade project team.

The new project, however, met with some dissent Monday evening from neighbors who think it shouldn’t be publicly financed and that the city should first confirm if business owners want to open up shop there.

Alan Godsey, who lives on Bell Road near the district said he’s also “personally very opposed to publicly financing development projects for the greater good of private developers” and that he’s “particularly opposed to publicly financing housing developments,” over concerns that owners of apartments will pay much less in property taxes.

Don Lysaught, another nearby resident, was also concerned with the total cost project, especially as interest accumulates.

“I think we got the cart before the horse here; why haven’t we decided on ‘Yes, we’re going to let this person build this,’ as opposed to ‘We’re going to give them the money to build it?’” Lysaught asked, adding that he’s generally opposed to tax increment financing. “I find it very troublesome [that] they’re now coming back and they’re seeking that financing for private residences, apartments, that the property tax to the city is negligible at best.”

Musil said property owners of the apartments will pay their full property tax, at 11.5 percent, just like a residential property owner would. Musil also urged the council to approve the plan, saying the area will remain undeveloped without a push from the city.

A public hearing and final approval from the council on the project plan is set for July 23.