Tax incentives package for Brookridge development still alive — but prospects for approval uncertain

A rendering of part of the first phase of the proposed Brookridge multi-use project.

The tax incentive plan to put offices, stores and homes on Brookridge country club land stayed alive Wednesday to continue its slow march through Overland Park’s approval process.

Brookridge developer Chris Curtin and lawyer John Petersen succeeded in getting a new project plan recommended for the next planning commission meeting July 8. That hearing will be a first step toward eventual consideration of the latest public financing package for the development by the full city council later this year.

Members of the council’s Finance, Administration and Economic Development Committee got a look at a plan for the first phases of the project, but did not discuss it on its merits. Instead, they sent it on to the city council with the recommendation that the planning commission consider it first to determine if it meets the city’s comprehensive plan.

The project plan now under consideration covers only a part of the $2 billion, 140-acre proposed development at Antioch Road and 103rd Street. According to the latest filing, the developer would put about 16 buildings in the first two project areas, plus structured parking, street and other infrastructure improvements. A third project area, not in consideration Wednesday, would include 13 more buildings.

At issue will be the proposed tax incentives to pay some of the development costs. The latest project plan calls for tax increment financing as well as revenue to be raised by a 1.5 percent sales tax within a community improvement district.

The latest feasibility study estimates $90.1 million in revenues from the tax increment, with the total cost of that part of the development at $591.8 million.

Fits and starts for massive proposed project

The existing Brookridge Golf Club clubhouse.

The Brookridge plan has stutter-stepped through the city approval process, scoring success with land use issues only to find other setbacks since it was first put forward more than four years ago.

Most recently, the council and developer have been stuck on issues involving how to schedule and pay for street improvements that will be necessary to handle the increased traffic along Antioch Road.

But other public financing has also been a big issue. At one point, Curtin had proposed tourism-oriented Sales Tax and Revenue (STAR) bonds, only to have that shot down by the city council last year.

The finance committee recommended the project go on to the next step, but Chairman Dave White, who has opposed previous public financing, said he has doubts about how it will do once it reaches the council. “I don’t believe the votes are there,” he said. Approval of a tax increment financing package will require nine votes when it comes up again.

White voted to send the project on to the planning commission. “I believe the developer deserves the right to go through the process and have an ultimate vote,” he said. The public should also have a chance to have another say, he added.

“I don’t want anybody to interpret that I’ve changed my position on the feasibility of this plan,” by voting to send it forward, White said.

Neighbors have steadfastly opposed it, saying the years of construction will massively disrupt their lives. The earliest possibility for another public hearing – if the plan makes it through the intervening steps – would be Aug. 19.