Overland Park council approves permit for beer gardens at downtown block party July 19

Downtown Overland Park will host a block party featuring live music and beer gardens. File photo.

Downtown Overland Park will throw an outdoor shindig with beer gardens and live music July 19 to welcome the people who have moved into the recently opened new apartment buildings.

The event, which is being billed as a block party, will feature booths from businesses and closure of Santa Fe Drive between 79th Street and 80th Street. Beer gardens are proposed for each end of the block, with Papa Keno’s Pizzeria and another caterer managing them. Live music will be scheduled for the Clock Tower area and performing artists will be along Santa Fe.

There will be two sound stages and organizers are trying to get entertainment nodes along the street.

The event will be from 5-8 p.m., although the street would be closed from 2-11 p.m. for setting up and cleaning, according to documents filed with the application for the special event permit. The block party happens concurrently with the Local Life Third Friday, which is every month from February through December. However this event will be substantially bigger than the usual Third Friday, said Mary Cyr, executive director of the Downtown Overland Park Partnership.

The council approved the permit Monday with no discussion. But Councilmember Terry Happer Scheier said afterwards the party is an idea the Downtown Overland Park Partnership has been working on for a couple of years.

Happer Scheier said the block party is intended as a goodwill gesture to acquaint all the new people with Overland Park. With the recent completion of The Vue, Market Lofts, InterUrban Lofts and Avenue 80, downtown is seeing an influx of new residents. “We’re excited to see something like this,” she said.

Cyr said attendance is hard to estimate but that she hopes it will draw 200 and serve as a way to introduce people to the downtown area.

There have been tensions in recent months between long-time residents near downtown and city officials proposing changes. Residents have expressed concerns about changes to Santa Fe Commons Park, a proposal to move the Farmer’s Market that was dropped, and murals on the sides of some downtown buildings.

Cyr said she hopes the block party will be a chance to welcome new apartment residents while making existing neighbors feel included. “I hope it will be a way for people to come together,” she said. The downtown partnership wants to do better at engaging with the existing neighborhood, she said.

The block party may become the first of several similar events downtown, she added.