Utility relocation, Mission Gateway delays among hurdles for finding project for Roeland Park site

The lot at Johnson Drive and Roe in Roeland Park has been vacant for years, save for public art installations.

Uncertainty surrounding the Mission Gateway project and expensive utility relocation are among the hurdles facing development of northeast corner of Johnson Drive and Roe, Roeland Park city administrator Keith Moody told councilmembers Monday.

Roeland Park has explored possibilities for developing the city-owned site for more than a year. It initially looked at a mixed-use office project on the site, but the developer backed away from that concept.

A map showing the city-owned development site. Image credit CBC Real Estate.

Moody said Monday that years of inactivity on the Gateway project, located at the southwest corner of Johnson Drive and Roe in Mission, has influenced interest for the northeast corner, in Roeland Park. Mission Gateway developer Tom Valenti announced last month he hopes to finally start construction on the project in September.

“The greater the certainty of when and what occurs on the southwest corner helps a potential buyer…to be willing to make that investment,” Moody said.

The northeast corner will also require between $270,000 and $535,000 worth of utility relocation, depending on whether electric is routed above or below ground, he said.

CBC Real Estate Group development manager Jason Glasrud, who has been hired to explore potential projects for the city, said CBC was being selective with developer interest on the northeast corner, as the site is being considered “the true front door for the City of Roeland Park.”

Glasrud said he was looking for a multi-generational and memorable mixed-use project that would set the tone for individuals entering Roeland Park.
“We’ve had some significant interest in this location for a number of different uses but we are still focused on achieving…. the vision that the city set forth,” Glasrud said.

Roeland Park citizen surveys have shown strong support for a restaurant so Glasrud said he is trying to generate interest from developers looking to incorporate a restaurant at both the northeast corner and the old pool site, now known as The Rocks.

“The hope is that we aim for two and at least get one,” he said.

Among the developments currently being considered for the northeast corner is a mixed-use project that would incorporate a restaurant, retail, and apartments for seniors. After hearing preliminary plans regarding the project during a June meeting, councilmembers Becky Fast, Erin Thompson and Michael Poppa expressed interest in learning more, with Thompson noting that she thought the project “could be appropriate.”

In 2017 Colliers International expressed interest in building a three-story mixed-use concept on the site, but adjusted plans to constructing two single-story buildings with inline retail after conducting a profitability study. While councilmembers had shown interest in Colliers’ three-story project, they were disappointed in the single-story plans.