Brookridge developer drops bonds-for-streetwork request in hopes of moving proposal forward

Roxie Hammill - May 16, 2019 7:22 am
A rendering of part of the first phase of the proposed Brookridge multi-use project.

The developer of the $2 billion Brookridge multi-use project has dropped the idea of asking the city to issue bonds – to be repaid later – for street improvements near 103rd Street and Antioch Road.

Instead developer Chris Curtin will pay for the street improvements needed to accommodate increasing traffic and be reimbursed later from the public financing package, said attorney John Petersen, his representative.

“The idea of the city entering into any kind of debt and having to worry about a guarantee is gone. The developer will front the cost. End of story,” Petersen said. The street financing had been a key sticking point between the developer and city officials.

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Petersen told the Overland Park city council’s finance, administration and economic development committee Wednesday that the developer also is in a fierce competition to land a major tenant in one of the office buildings proposed for the area a bit farther south of the intersection. Getting that tenant could shorten the time span on street work that has neighbors concerned.

The committee heard the Brookridge update but declined to speed up scheduling for the next referral to planning commission, as Petersen asked.

To stay competitive, Petersen wanted the financing package to come before the city council July 22 instead of Aug. 18. But council members and city staff were unsure that staff would have the time it needed to review it and get a vote by July.

Petersen also said the developer hopes to build a state-of-the-art commercial development with a “carbon zero footprint” that will be recognized nationally.

Protracted negotiations between city and developer on massive proposal

A map included in Wednesday’s meeting packet showing the outlines of the two initial project areas.

It was the latest iteration of the long-running negotiations between the city and the developer on public financing for the development. Curtin had once proposed tourism-oriented Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) bonds, but later abandoned that idea. In February the developer put forth the plan for street work to be paid for up front by the city, but later reimbursed, but that plan got a tepid reception from council members.

The Brookridge project, on the site of the golf and country club of the same name, is a 140-acre project that has been steadfastly opposed by neighbors in nearby single-family homes. They have been concerned about the disruption from years of construction, especially on the streets. They’ve also voiced a number of other concerns about drainage, cost and other aspects of the project.

The last time the committee heard about the financing request was in February. That discussion revolved around the northeast corner of the site – an area that would cost $596.1 million to build. At that time, developers asked for $96 million in tax increment financing to pay some of their costs.

Petersen said the basic numbers for the new request remain essentially the same. The tax increment financing and community improvement district would account for about 21 percent of the total development costs of the first phase and 19 percent of the second phase, Petersen said. Some $56 million of that would be used to build public streets.

Committee members asked questions but did not voice many opinions about the changes to the plan. Chairman David White asked about a request to have the city use its condemnation powers to get the necessary right-of-way for street improvements.

Petersen clarified that, “we’re not talking about the houses on Antioch,” but about 25,000 square feet spread out in various places along the road. White urged the developer to negotiate with the neighbors for any right-of-way it needs, rather than asking the city to use eminent domain.

Pinehurst subdivision neighbors have been particularly concerned, he said. “Those folks have been vocal about this project. For the city to go in there and condemn that property is like rubbing their nose in it,” White said.

But Petersen said the only right-of-way the developer would need from Pinehurst was about four feet along Antioch Road.

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