Shawnee OKs $150,000 toward Hartman Hardware building renovation

The Shawnee City Council approved a forgivable loan for Box Real Estate Development in the amount of $150,000 to help cover renovation costs for the Hartman Hardware building downtown.

The new owner of the Hartman Hardware building in downtown Shawnee will get a $150,000 funding boost from the city to assist with renovation costs.

Russell Pearson of Box Real Estate Development is planning to invest roughly $2.5 million in renovations of the building on the northeast corner of Johnson Drive and Nieman Road. His company, based in Lee’s Summit, purchased the building from Lisa and Mike Unterreiner, who recently retired and closed the store. The building had been in Lisa’s family, the Hartmans, since 1946.

The Shawnee City Council on Monday voted 7-1 to approve the forgivable loan agreement with Box Real Estate Development. Councilmember Mike Kemmling voted in dissent. He has historically voted against measures that allot public dollars to private projects.

Pearson plans to renovate the building into a multi-tenant facility for businesses that fit criteria in the 2002 Hyett Palma report. These include restaurants and coffee shops, delis, bakeries, and dessert shops, grocers, theatre and live entertainment, and specialty retail shops such as antique shops, art galleries, florists, bookstores and the like.

In earlier conversations this year, Pearson noted his plans to turn the main floor of the Hartman Hardware store into a restaurant. Below is a rendering of those improvements:

Councilmember Tammy Thomas said she wanted to ensure that the agreement prohibits the company from demolishing the building.

City Manager Nolan Sunderman noted that the renovation plans don’t appear to include any demolition work. Councilmember Lisa Larson-Bunnell echoed those comments.

“There are what I would consider minor outdoor enhancements, I would not consider this a demolition by any means except for certainly, I’m sure the insides will look very different,” Larson-Bunnell said. “But I think they’ve done a really good job of trying to maintain the integrity and the historical nature of the Hartman Hardware building.”

The forgivable loan funds come from the Shawnee Entrepreneurial and Economic Development fund, the city’s unique program to support renovation efforts and other projects for businesses.

Per the terms of the agreement, Box Real Estate Development would be reimbursed on a tiered basis, receiving the first $50,000 from the city for obtaining a building permit and showing proof that it has the finances to complete the project. The company receives the next $75,000 after a satisfactory final inspection, and the final $25,000 for occupancy of 60% of the ground floor.

The agreement also requires that Box Real Estate Development complete the project within 365 days of the effective date of the  agreement, or at least by Nov. 9, 2021. The city’s agreement includes clawback provisions if the company stops doing business within the first two years after the effective date of the agreement (Nov. 9, 2020).