Hoping to speed up demolition of dilapidated hotels, OP council OKs stripped down Metcalf Gateway plan

Developers say they hope to start razing the vacant hotels this fall.

With hopes that it would speed demolition of two derelict hotel buildings, Overland Park City Council members gave their blessing to an updated final development plan for the Metcalf Gateway development, formerly known as Metcalf Crossing.

The approval will allow banks to release funding for demolition to the developer, 7240 Shawnee Mission Parkway LLC. The bulldozers would begin tearing down the former Ramada Inn and Knights Inn at that address on Sept. 30.

“Tearing down the hotel we would like to see sooner rather than later,” said Councilmember Terry Happer Scheier. “When you say it’s coming in October, I take your word for it.”

Council members were enthusiastic about the project when it was first proposed more than a year ago for self-storage, retail and office plus a smaller hotel. The existing hotel buildings had become a hot spot for crime and social problems as well as code violations before they were closed at the end of 2017.

But since then there have been major changes in the development plan and consequent delays. The demolition was to have begun in 2018, then was delayed to last month. Completion is now scheduled for the end of this year.

Although the plan for the $39 million development calls for office and retail on other pad sites, the only building that is moving toward construction so far is the self storage. Council members okayed that 114,400-square-foot building, with three above-ground floors. The developer will plant twice the number of trees to shield the storage facility from residential neighbors along West 62nd Street, according to staff notes.

The developer is also working with the city forester on replacement of trees along the Metcalf Avenue ramp. The developer had asked that some trees along the ramp be removed to increase the project’s visibility, according to city documents.

Council members asked whether the continued existence of the closed hotels caused any neighbor complaints or police or fire calls. But Deputy City Manager Kristie Stallings said things have been quiet there, with the only complaint being about tall grass and weeds.

Councilmember Dave White sought reassurance that the area will be graded and finished, even though the other buildings are not yet in the pipeline. “What I don’t want is just bare ground kind of like what you’ve got at the Mission Mall,” he said.

The project will get tax increment financing and dedicated sales tax dollars that will come to $5.9 million in city financing for the troubled intersection. “I’ve always liked this project,” said Councilmember Faris Farassati. “I think it’s in a very right place for all the assistance and help we could do.”