Shawnee has advanced a new preliminary plan for Bellmont Promenade, a residential and retail project at the southwest corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road.
Much to the relief of neighbors who have protested and opposed the project at various stages, the new plans for the 27-acre site slash the number of apartments nearly in half and pave the way for an additional pad site that the developers intend to earmark for a sit-down restaurant.
Besides that, most of the project remains the same as the preliminary plan approved by the city planning commission several months ago, city staff said. The city in February had approved $19.5 million in TIF funds for the $99 million project. Dave Claflin, a spokesperson for the project developer, Legacy Development, said the total project cost and requested amount of TIF funds may change as a result of the changes to the project.
“Not much has changed except with the intensity and density,” said Doug Allmon, community development director.
Bach Homes LLC had been the multi-family partner for the project, but after backing out a few months ago, developer Legacy Development named JPL Development in St. Louis as the new multi-family partner on the project. Allmon said Bach Homes withdrew from the project because of concerns with finding adequate parking.
JPL Development plans to build 148 residential units in two four-story buildings. The previous plan had called for about 250 apartment units. David Braswell with JPL Development said they decided to downsize the residential component because they found that a scaled-down version would be more economically viable. Parking would also be more manageable with fewer units.
The project had included a mixed use portion of the project — and was partially zoned for it — but now that the residential and retail/commercial components of the project are explicitly segregated, a “re-rezoning” was required. In a planning commission meeting Monday, city staff said the new zoning was more appropriate.
“I think the difficulty that they were finding is that there are typically apartment builders and commercial builders, and to bite off both chunks, they were having difficulty figuring out how to make it work,” Allmon said, adding that staff believes the residential density is sufficient to help the retail component thrive. “But losing some units from that original approval does not give me concern. If anything, I think it’s probably better than the original.”
The new zoning is residential high rise for the apartments, and commercial highway for a small pad site just east of the apartments. That portion of the project had been zoned planned unit development mixed use because the plan was going to include commercial below the apartments.
Here is the current zoning for the site:
And here is the new zoning:
Don Lysaught, a Shawnee resident who lives on Bell Road near the proposed Bellmont Promenade project, gave his support and spoke on behalf of neighbors, saying the new plan is more appropriate for the area.
“I am pleased to say that we’re actually here to be supportive of this,” Lysaught said, adding his compliments toward the developers and city staff for working with the neighbors to resolve issues with the project. “I think this shows that your zoning requirements and regulations are correct. The last time we were here, there was all kinds of deviations, variations, from your rules.
“This project complies with virtually everything. It gets back to our point that we tried to make then, and why we’re supportive now: This is a decent project. We’re not overwhelmed by it. We are willing to look at it objectively and say this one makes sense, and it does. We feel that this is a good use, a very reasonable use, of the property.”
The project includes a pool and workout area in the eastern apartment building. Of the units, 8% will be studios, 38% will be one-bedroom units and 54% will be two-bedroom units. Braswell said rental rates for a 1,000-square foot unit may be about $1,500 a month.
The project also includes 210 parking stalls, two of which will include electric car charging stations to charge four vehicles. Braswell said they may add more. Residents will also be able to use shared parking with the retail component of the project — details on crosswalks, sidewalks and pedestrian safety will be discussed and determined with the presentation of a final development plan.
Commissioner Randy Braley asked about the residential component utilizing solar power, but Braswell said it’s not economically viable.
Other planning commissioners indicated support for the project.
“It’s always difficult to figure out which way we’re going to go, but I know that this is where we wanted to go,” said Planning Commissioner Kathy Peterson. “I’m thrilled that the residents are happy, or happier. To me, I’m excited about it.”
The planning commission unanimously recommended approval of the new preliminary plan and rezoning for Bellmont Promenade. The Shawnee council will consider the commission’s recommendation as early as Dec. 23. Final plans must be approved by the city before any work can begin.
Claflin said that after the city approves a final plan, they will finalize closing on the property. In the meantime, the developers plan to announce a list of commercial/retail tenants, hopefully by the end of December.