AdventHealth’s preliminary plan for a wellness campus received approval from the Lenexa council, but with some “cautious optimism” from councilmembers and concerns from neighboring residents.
The 27-acre site on the northwest corner of West 87th Street Parkway and Renner Boulevard is one of the last remaining undeveloped parcels of land at Lenexa City Center. AdventHealth’s development plans for a wellness campus call for multiple buildings, including a hospital, lifestyle and wellness facility, medical buildings and retail shops, to be built over a 12-year period.
Councilmembers and residents raised the same concerns on Tuesday that neighbors had brought up to the planning commission earlier this month, primarily in relation to the height and location of the five-story hospital, which would be located roughly 300 to 400 feet from the residential subdivision to the north. The hospital would also sit on a 30-foot elevation above the neighboring homes.
The developer, Copaken Brooks, had previously submitted a plan for the hospital to have eight stories but lowered it to five after hearing concerns from residents and planning commissioners.
“The fact that they lowered it to five stories doesn’t really allay my concerns with it being a large structure,” said Sharon Bock, whose home is near the proposed site for the hospital. “That property is higher in elevation than where we are, so any building that is over probably two stories is going to be quite visible.”
Residents have asked if the hospital could be relocated to another area on the site, but Keith Copaken, principal of Copaken Brooks, said plans for the road network trisecting the site combined with the size of the hospital and dedicated parking area limit the location to its current position. Also, the other components of the wellness campus are intended to be more walkable along West 87th Street Parkway, he added.
“Those are the reasons why the hospital is where it is, and those are the city planning good connectivity reasons as to how this plan works and why we feel it works well,” Copaken said, adding that it is “definitely” not their intent to ask for three more stories on the hospital in the future.
Council shares mixed feelings but overall support for wellness campus
After deliberating on the concerns raised by residents who live just north of the site, the Lenexa council voted 6-2 to approve a special use permit that allows a helipad to be built on the northwest corner of 86th Street and Renner Boulevard. Councilmembers Joe Karlin and Bill Nicks voted in dissent.
The council also voted 7-1 to approve a preliminary plan for the wellness campus. Karlin again voted in dissent.
Karlin said he likes the project and thinks the wellness campus would be “a fantastic addition to City Center,” but he was concerned with the hospital and the addition of the helipad on site.
“The residences to the north, their grade is about 30 feet below where the hospital is going to be sitting, so a five-story building really looks or feels like an eight-story building,” Karlin said. “That’s a very real, significant concern to me. With it being in that position and that size, with a helipad, I just can’t support it.”
Nonetheless, many councilmembers shared their support of the project as a positive addition to City Center. Mayor Michael Boehm noted that other local hospitals are next to residential areas, and Councilmember Tom Nolte said he has “cautious optimism” for the project.
“Such things as universities and churches and hospitals are all uses that exceed a hundred years,” Nolte said. “They tend to gobble up their neighbors; they expand to their limits. This one actually shows that there is a long-range plan for future use.”
Other issues raised before the council and planning commission have centered around the placement and noise of the helipad — a primary reason the city needed to approve a special use permit — as well as potential traffic issues, light and noise and the length of time to build out the campus.
One resident shared her concern that the helipad is too close to the sidewalk and poses a danger to pedestrians. The developers and city leaders noted that the helipad sits about 12 feet above ground and would be used less frequently than nearby trauma centers, which are used two to three times per month.
City staff said traffic won’t be a concern because the road network is designed to handle increased traffic.
The city will next enter into a development agreement with the developer, which must bring back final plans to gain city approval for each phase.