Momentum and redevelopment remain the focus as business leaders and the community of Overland Park look ahead to the future, Mayor Carl Gerlach told the audience at Tuesday’s State of the City address, which was hosted by the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce.
Before a crowd of hundreds at the Overland Park Convention Center, Gerlach characterized the recent wave of investment and development in the city a success. At the same time, he urged the community to be unafraid of change.
“Innovation and creativity should not be constrained,” Gerlach said. “Apprehension, fear of change or the unknown should not inhibit us. Your companies and our community want — no, let me change that — we require progress and achievement.”
Gerlach thanked the businesses and organization leaders in the community for continuing to invest in Overland Park and make it a place to live, work and play.
“If its success was judged by the presence of businesses and their investment, it would make the city of Overland Park beyond fortunate,” Gerlach said. “Overland Park has been blessed with wonderful, talented, bright, inquisitive and thoughtful business leaders over the decades.
“Not surprisingly, today’s business model is different than yesterday’s and tomorrow’s will be different in the years ahead.”
The mayor called attention to all of the changes coming to the city, including a number of redevelopment projects and other “economic opportunities” happening in Overland Park. A few of the highlights:
- Almost $800 million in new construction took place last year — a record for Overland Park
- Over the past six years, construction value of new investments topped $3 billion
- About 30,000 jobs are within a mile radius of College Boulevard and Metcalf Avenue, making it a “significant jobs center” for the Kansas City metro area
- Two mixed-use projects are in the works at 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue
- The city is in talks with state officials on plans to allocate funds to improve U.S. 69 from four lanes to six lanes south of I-435 to 167th Street
- Five multi-story structures are under construction in downtown Overland Park, including the Edison District, a $54 million office and retail project featuring a “food hall” concept, outdoor gathering area, a parking garage and a parking lot to double as an event space
- A $3.7 million project is in the works to update the 41-year-old Santa Fe Commons Park next to the Edison District — featuring shelters, a water feature, performance stage, children’s play area and outdoor office space with Wi-Fi
Gerlach said the city will be renaming Santa Fe Commons to Thompson Park in honor of Frank and Evangeline Thompson. Frank owned Overland Park Jeep at 87th and Metcalf for several years before retiring. The mayor thanked the couple for generous donations to St. Luke’s Hospital and many other local organizations and projects, including the park.
Meanwhile, the city is seeking more public and private partnerships to enhance the city’s corridors, activate spaces and make Overland Park more walkable.
Nonetheless, the mayor encouraged the community to stay involved because “this work cannot be done alone.”
“Each of you has a personal stake to move this nationally recognized community forward,” Gerlach said. “Yes, forward: a word I use with intent to describe the direction we intend to go. Our future will be greater than today due to your ideas, due to your input and due to your involvement.”