Fairway creates TIF district for apartment project at site of vacant office complex on SM Parkway

Fairway Corporate Center

The Fairway City Council approved creating a tax increment financing district for a roughly $65 million project convert the vacant Fairway Office Park on Shawnee Mission Parkway into a mixed-use apartment complex geared towards "active adults." File image.

The Fairway City Council has approved the creation of a tax increment financing district for a proposed $65 million apartment complex for “active adults” at the vacant Fairway Office Park in the 4200 block of Shawnee Mission Parkway.

The council approved creating the TIF district Monday by a 6-2 vote.

Mayor Melanie Hepperly said the approval authorized only the creation of the TIF district but did not address the TIF itself or the development plan.

By creating the TIF district, the city is not committing to providing any funds to the developer, the city said in a news release. The council will consider conditions, restrictions and amounts of any public financial incentives at a later date.

TIF plan details

Ward 3 Councilmember David Watkins called the creation of the TIF district a “procedural action” that imposes no binding obligation on the city to the developer.

The next step is for the city’s planning commission to consider whether the development plan conforms to the city’s comprehensive plan.

The council approved the preliminary site and development plans and rezoning of the project site in October.

TIF is a public financing tool that reimburses a developer of a blighted property for eligible development and infrastructure costs using the increment of new property or sales tax revenue generated by the development.

In determining whether to grant TIF, consideration is given to whether a development would not be financially feasible without public financing.

According to council documents for Monday’s meeting, the TIF district along Shawnee Mission Parkway allows for a mixed-used development along with the planned apartment complex, which could include:

  • other commercial and residential development,
  • recreational uses,
  • related public and private infrastructure,
  • site work including demolition, utilities, stormwater and drainage,
  • landscaping, parking facilities and other items.

Austin Bradley, vice president of Overland Park-based EPC Real Estate Group, which is part of the proposed project’s development group, told the Post after Monday’s meeting that the project’s estimated cost had decreased from nearly $68 million in June to roughly $65 million.

The projected number of apartments also decreased from 250 to 221, the square footage dropped to about 260,000 square feet from about 280,000 square feet.

Ultimately, he said developers now plan to request $10 million in TIF, down from $15 million.

“It’s our burden to prove the need for incentives,” Bradley told the Post.

He added that the project would not be feasible without public financial incentives and said the project would provide a good housing alternative for older Fairway residents who don’t want to own a home.

Some opposition

The developers will market the apartments to renters between ages 55 and 84 and call it an active adult complex because it would exclude meals and in-house care, which are typically offered at senior living facilities, Bradley said in June.

Tentative plans also include an outdoor community garden, a fitness center, a spa, pools and fire pits.

But the TIF plan did not pass without opposition from some residents.

During a public hearing Monday, Fairway resident Jim Poplinger said he saw the TIF district as “nothing but corporate welfare.”

He said it would funnel money to private developers that should go to city services, it would be unfair to adjacent property owners who had maintained and upgraded their properties “on their own dime” and it would set a precedent for further public financial incentives for private developments.

“I would bet money, marbles or chalk that the next one will be the Fairway Shops,” Poplinger said. “Just say no and put an end to it.”

Ward 1 Councilmember Kelly-Ann Buszek voted no on the TIF district. She said several residents in her ward had contacted her to express their opposition to creating the district.

“Even though we can hope it wouldn’t make a significant difference to city services, I think it would,” Buszek said.

What happens next

Also on Monday, the council unanimously approved an engagement letter with the city’s financial adviser, Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc., regarding the proposed project.

Stifel will charge $250 an hour for its services, which Hepperly said would be covered under a funding agreement with the developer and not paid for by the city.

Bradley said in June that the potential project’s timeline called for the developers to conduct design and documentation related to the site until March 2022 and that construction could start as early as April 2022, with occupants moving in two years later, in spring 2024.