Over the quiet scufflings of a ceremonial dirt turn for the Edison District, the heart of downtown Overland Park clamored with the metallic rumblings of machines already hard at work.
At the ceremony Wednesday morning, the developer and city and Overland Park Chamber leaders praised the coming office and retail project at 80th and Marty streets Wednesday morning, while construction workers plugged away on the various other developments on the block.
“This is an exciting morning for the city, and you can tell that by the number of councilmembers that show up,” joked Mayor Carl Gerlach, who introduced six Overland Park councilmembers at the groundbreaking ceremony for Edison District.
Among the many features for the $54 million Edison District project are a “food hall” concept, large outdoor gathering area, a parking garage with 396 spaces and a surface level parking lot along Overland Park Drive that can double as an event space.
‘Event plaza’ envisioned as gathering spot for community
The groundbreaking ceremony took place in what will become the common plaza for the Edison District. That outdoor gathering space, combined with the surface parking area, will be 180 percent of the Power and Light District common courtyard area, said Tim Barton, Freightquote founder and developer of Edison District.
Barton said the project adds to the growing density in downtown Overland Park, in a similar vein to the Crossroads District in Kansas City, Mo. The Edison District office spaces add to about six new apartment projects as well as a second office space in downtown Overland Park.
“It certainly won’t be exactly Crossroads, but it will be an authentic area where people can live and work and eat and be,” Barton said, “and that, in my opinion, will be unique in Johnson County.”
Tracey Osborne Oltjen, president and chief executive officer of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, said companies are looking for “cool” workspaces like what is being built as part of Edison District.
“Overland Park has long been that city of choice, and now we’re making it even more unique than we have been for the last 60 years or so,” Osborne Oltjen said, adding that the chamber thanks the developing team for investing in the community.
Tim Schaffer, real estate broker for the project, noted that the developer still doesn’t have a tenant, making the project financially risky. He asked attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony to consider potential tenants and share their ideas with him.
The mayor thanked city leaders and staff and all other stakeholders for their effort in the Edison District project. He also noted that city leaders in Kansas City, Mo., are watching the revitalization of downtown Overland Park.
“This can really catapult this downtown area even more,” Gerlach said.
The Overland Park council earlier this summer approved $14.4 million in public financing the Edison District, including $10.6 million in tax increment financing for the parking garage as well as a 2 percent community improvement district sales tax within the district that the developer can use for building expenses. It’s among the highest CID tax rates in the county.