Shawnee approves plans to convert former Johnson County Museum building into office space

The former school building housed the Johnson County Museum for decades before the exhibits moved to the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center two years ago. Photo credit Johnson County Appraiser’s Office.

The former Johnson County Museum site in Shawnee is now zoned for professional office use, repurposing the 91-year-old building and putting it back on the tax rolls.

The Shawnee council on Monday unanimously approved the planning commission’s recommendation to rezone the former Johnson County Museum property from single-family residential to professional office use.

The new owner, Lackman Civic Center LLC, which recently bought the property from Johnson County, plans to convert the building at 6305 Lackman Road into office space.

The building is now vacant because Johnson County moved the museum to the former King Louie facility — now called the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center — on Metcalf last year.

Lackman Civic Center plans to convert the Shawnee structure to be used for general office space.

“The rezoning request would bring the 18,253 square foot structure into a zoning district that would allow the existing building to be repurposed for something viable without having to tear it down,” wrote city staff in a July 2 request to the planning commission.

Lackman also indicated that the space may be used for religious purposes and outreach activities such as religious discourse and seminars and educational classes.

The 2.38 acres of unplatted land houses the original building and grounds for the former Greenwood School, which was built in 1927. Johnson County took over the building and converted it to a museum in 1967.

“Re-purposing the building for office uses will allow the structure to remain on the site,” wrote Paul Chaffee, community development director, in a July 23 memo. The space also allows “adequate” parking for office use. No other site improvements are planned right now.

“The structure is not suited for single-family residential use,” Chaffee wrote. Planning staff also indicated that the property would be “very difficult (if not impossible) to convert into a single-family residence as allowed by the current R-1 zoning designation.”

“The rezoning provides a benefit to the community in that the building can be re-purposed to a beneficial use,” Chaffee wrote.

Property to the west, developed as the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Johnson County, is still zoned single-family residential.

Chaffee added that using the property for purposes allowed in the professional office zoning district will place the property back on tax rolls.