Bellmont Promenade developer announces retail tenants in Shawnee project; city leaders split over plans to modify CID for development

The Shawnee City Council appears to be giving up on Bellmont Promenade, a long-delayed mixed-use development proposed for a site near Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road. The city council on Monday declined a request from the developer to continue a public hearing to Jan. 11, 2021. The public hearing is a requirement for the city to consider a new funding agreement. Above, a design rendering of the project.

Legacy Development on Monday announced its lineup of retail tenants for Bellmont Promenade, a mixed-use residential and retail development in Shawnee. Meanwhile, city leaders at their meeting tussled over some technical details of a public financing agreement.

Located on 27 acres at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Maurer Road, the $100 million project has been anticipated by city leaders for several years as it underwent changes and multiple runs through the city’s approval processes. Lead developers for the project include Legacy Development and JPL Development.

Retailers announced on Monday include:

  • Hobby Lobby – arts and crafts store
  • Five Below — value retailer with products geared toward youth
  • PetCo — pet products and services
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods — sports equipment, apparel and footwear

A few project highlights:

  • 165,000 square feet of retail space
  • 35,000 square feet of restaurant space
  • 148 apartment units

Construction is scheduled to begin this spring and open in summer 2021.

The project’s funding is tied to a public financing incentives package the city approved in February 2019, including:

  • 90% TIF property tax over a period of 20 years
  • 1.6% sales tax for the community improvement district (CID) over a period of 22 years
  • 1% TIF city general sales tax

The project also includes the issuance of $19.5 million in special obligation bonds, to be payable from TIF and CID revenues generated by sales from businesses at Bellmont Promenade. The city also approved a sales tax exemption on construction costs.

City council divided over plans for community improvement district

Councilmember Eric Jenkins (right) argued against the need for a public hearing on a modified CID. He and fellow councilmembers Mike Kemmling, Kurt Knappen and Tammy Thomas generally oppose public financing for private development.

Because Legacy Development has made changes to the project since the city approved the public financing package last year, it requested approval of the revised TIF and CID project plans.

The city council on Monday unanimously approved the amended TIF project plan, which makes no changes to the amount or term.

However, some members of the city council had concerns with the CID tied to the project, which resulted in a hurried vote and, afterward, some confused discussion over whether the city should set a public hearing to discuss modifications to the CID.

After an initial vote to set a public hearing for the modified CID failed on a 4-4 split tie, the council continued through the rest of city business until Councilmember Lindsey Constance asked Mayor Michelle Distler to return to the subject of Bellmont Promenade.

It appeared there was a misunderstanding about the purpose of the public hearing for the modified CID.

Heather Trower of Legacy Development said a public hearing for the modified CID would be a formality to ensure documentation is up to date with the latest version of Bellmont Promenade.

Councilmembers who fundamentally oppose public financing of private development — including Eric Jenkins, Mike Kemmling, Kurt Knappen and Tammy Thomas — twice voted against the public hearing that was required for the modified CID. They said they understood the city intended in March to raise the CID sales tax rate from 1.3% to 1.6%; they later learned this vote had already occurred in February 2019.

“What are we having a public hearing for? The TIF that’s already OK? The CID that’s already adopted?” Jenkins asked. “That’s really confusing, guys.”

However, City Manager Nolan Sunderman as well as Heather Trower of Legacy Development stressed that the modifications to the CID were simply a “housekeeping” item and “formality” to ensure that all documentation was synced up with the current scope of the project. Without the public hearing on the CID, the city’s documentation on file for the project would be invalid, city leaders and staff said.

“While we feel that it’s insubstantial, we just want them to tie the two documents is all,” Trower said. “This is the process.”

After some discussion, the Shawnee council voted 5-4 to set a public hearing for March 23 on the modified CID. Mayor Michelle Distler broke the tie.