‘Much better fit’ — Shawnee approves townhomes for old Wonderscope site after rejecting original concept

The Shawnee City Council unanimously approved plans for a townhome development project at 5700 King downtown, the site of the old Wonderscope Children's Museum. Above, a design rendering of the project, which will include 26 two-story townhomes like those seen here.

After a few brief remarks praising the developer, the Shawnee City Council on Monday unanimously approved revised plans for a townsquare project at 5700 King, the site of the old Wonderscope museum downtown.

In a short presentation, Jason Swords with Sunflower Development Group shared details about their efforts to accommodate neighboring single-family homeowners who had vehemently opposed an apartment project originally planned for the site.

Sunflower Development Group has now proposed building 26 two-story townhomes over four separate buildings at 5700 King Street in downtown Shawnee.

The site is bordered by the frontages of King, Flint and West 57th streets.

Original plan rejected

After the city council rejected plans for the five-story apartments in November, Swords returned this summer with the townhome proposal.

“We heard loud and clear that everything had to be two stories — no higher. So we’ve modified our plan, and we believe that we have a good mix of two- and three-bedroom units in here, and we hope that you would approve it tonight,” Swords said.

City leaders shared their resounding support and excitement for the project, which they believe is more in line with the surrounding neighborhood and the feel of downtown.

They also thanked Swords for not giving up and walking away from the project, and for working with the neighbors, city leaders and city staff.

“We heard loud and clear that everything had to be two stories, no higher,” said Jason Swords with Sunflower Development Group.

“I feel that it ties in Shawnee Town with downtown very well, and with the older homes that are in the area, and everything,” said Mayor Michelle Distler. “I just think it’s a much better fit, and I am very grateful that you were willing to make these accommodations, and it can still work for you and work better for us.”

At a planning commission meeting earlier this month, Swords said he and his team believed the townhome concept was more compatible with the requests from neighboring residents, who led a vocal campaign against the apartments previously proposed for the site.

Councilmember Eric Jenkins also implored the city to ensure that public parking and traffic flow, particularly for emergency vehicles, remain effective throughout the area.

Kevin Manning, deputy public works director for the city, said city staff will review the situation if issues arise after the 5700 King townhomes are built.

A recording of the meeting is below. Discussion begins at 2:31:20.