With future of Bellmont Promenade project uncertain, developer now owes Shawnee $150,000

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.

The Shawnee City Council for now 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 council on Monday declined a request from Bellmont Promenade LLC, the developer, to continue a public hearing to Jan. 11, 2021. The public hearing is a requirement for the city to consider levying special assessments for the related Community Improvement District public financing arrangements, and also approve a new funding agreement with the developer.

Last month, the city council called for a public hearing to consider levying special assessments and approve a new funding agreement with the developer. In that meeting on Oct. 26, several councilmembers expressed hesitation and concern for the status of the development.

Per the terms of that funding agreement, the developer owes the city $150,000 for fees and expenses the city has incurred related to services for the development. Those services include consultants, underwriter’s counsel and all other expenses incurred by the city that are related to the project.

City staff said the developer had five business days from approval of the funding agreement to reimburse the city but has not yet done so.

The $150,000 reflects a portion of the estimated costs of issuance of the bonds if the bonds are sold, according to city documents.

Councilmembers Lisa Larson-Bunnell and Matt Zimmerman voted in favor of continuing the public hearing. Councilmembers Jill Chalfie, Lindsey Constance, Eric Jenkins, Mike Kemmling and Kurt Knappen voted in dissent. Councilmember Tammy Thomas was absent.

Dave Claflin with Legacy Development, the lead developer behind Bellmont Promenade LLC, said on Tuesday afternoon that the company remains committed and enthusiastic about the Bellmont Promenade project.

“The action taken last night by Shawnee City Council does not reflect any pause or lack of motivation on our part to pursue the project,” Claflin said. “As we understand it, council would like to see us have all the various elements of the project in place before we seek further approvals.”

Claflin said the company intends to be back in front of council after the first of the year with those pieces in place and “ready to get started on what should be a very successful and exciting project” for the city. He did not specify what “various elements” still need to be in place for the project to move forward.

“City staff has challenged us with some unique hurdles, but we are proud to have kept this project together in unprecedented times and believe with the help of the city we are at the cusp of its groundbreaking,” Claflin added. He did not specify what those “unique hurdles” are.

‘No new movement’

The $98 million mixed-use project includes residential as well as restaurant and retail components; it also includes public financing that levies an additional sales tax on retail purchases on the site.

Julie Breithaupt, the city’s communications manager, said that if the developer were to come up with any new item or change that it would like the city council to consider, then city staff would add that new item to a future city council agenda, and the city would have to set a new public hearing date.

“So as of now, there is no new movement on the project,” Breithaupt added.

The process to set a new public hearing date takes about a month, as the notice must be published twice in legal records.

The city council had previously convened in April to approve levying special assessments and issue special obligation revenue bonds for the project. However, the developer did not purchase the land by Aug. 1, and the development has been delayed, according to city documents. At that time, city leaders discussed the lack of a bond market due to the economic crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to advance the project at this point, the city must take certain procedural actions related to the public financing arrangements for the project — specifically the Community Improvement District — as well as issuance of the bonds and amendments to the redevelopment agreement.