Autism From The Start wants to expand Lenexa site to serve more children — here’s how

Autism from the Start is renovating and expanding its facility, a historic home in Old Town Lenexa. The city council on Tuesday will consider a special use permit for the site. Above, a design rendering of the expansion.

Autism From The Start, an early intervention center for young children with autism, is moving forward with plans to expand its location in Old Town Lenexa.

Michelle Macrorie, pediatric psychologist and founder of Autism from the Start, said the plans to renovate the house and expand onto it will accommodate more children on site.

The center had been planning to move forward with renovations when those plans initially came in over budget, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, grinding everything to a halt last year.

The revised plans essentially allow for more open space on the site, a larger playground, and less parking than what would normally be required for a business.

The Lenexa City Council on Tuesday, March 16, unanimously approved a 10-year special use permit for the center to operate in Old Town. The Lenexa Planning Commission earlier this month also voted 8-0 to approve a revised final site plan for the center, which is located in a historic home at 9426 Pflumm Road. Commissioner Ben Harber was absent March 1.

A look at new plans

The historic home in Old Town Lenexa needs to be renovated and expanded for Autism from the Start to grow its services, said Michelle Macrorie, founder and CEO. Photo via Johnson County Appraiser Office.

The new plans now provide for a “better functional use” of the site, “allowing [Autism From The Start] to create a cohesive natural playground to the south of their building,” according to city documents.

The revised final plan involves the following:

  • The addition has changed from one story to two stories.
  • The overall square footage has decreased from about 10,000 square feet to about 8,000 square feet.
  • The location of the building addition has changed from being to the south of the existing building to the west side of the existing building.
  • Revisions have been made to the parking lot layout, from 36 to 33 spaces.
  • Open space has increased from 46% to 55%.
  • A large playground area has been added to the south side of the building.
  • The building addition will no longer have a basement component.

Planning commissioners were mostly concerned about adequate parking on the site and having enough space for cars to line up during pickups and dropoffs on site.

Macrorie said coordination between families and the staff, such as assigning times for parents to pick up and drop off their children, have allowed for smooth flow of traffic in order to avoid spilling out onto Pflumm Road.

Autism From The Start also recently launched a second location in Shawnee.