Leawood moves forward on plan for new Town Center steakhouse next to existing Hereford House

Town Center

After months of discussion over parking with owners of a nearby Hereford House, the Leawood Planning Commission unanimously approved the final plan for a new high-end steakhouse at Town Center Plaza. The restaurant would be built in what is currently a parking lot on the north side of the shopping center. Image via Leawood documents.

After months of debating with city staff and the owners of another local restaurant, a new unnamed “top drawer” steakhouse is one step closer to making its debut at Town Center Plaza in Leawood.

On Tuesday, the Leawood Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve the final plan for the 12,681-square-foot restaurant to be added to a site on the north side of the shopping center, east of Nall Avenue and just south of 117th Street.

The zone marked in red is where the proposed new restaurant will be put in, which is currently a parking lot for the north side of Town Center Plaza. The Hereford House franchise is immediately to the northeast, at the corner of 117th Street and Town Center Drive. Image via Leawood Planning Commission.

While the entity behind the new steakhouse has gone unnamed in official discussions of the project, the Kansas City Star, citing unnamed industry sources, has reported the restaurant will be run by Houston-based Perry’s.

The intention is to build the up-scale establishment where an existing parking lot for the center currently resides, requiring the removal of 103 parking spaces.

However, it was the removal of those parking spaces, among other issues, that led to the project going to several planning commission and city council meetings throughout the span of seven months.

A compromise in parking

Designs for the steakhouse restaurant originally came before the planning commission in August.

The plan at that time called for the removal of a total of 142 parking spaces at Town Center.

That prompted concerns from Hereford House, the popular Kansas City-based steakhouse with a Town Center franchise that stood on a neighboring lot on 117th Street.

In August, Hereford House owner Mary Holland told the commission she feared the removal of the spots would harm her restaurant and take away spaces the establishment has used in the past.

Now, after months of discussion between the restaurants, John Peterson, spokesperson for Washington Prime Group, owner and operators of Town Center Plaza, told the planning commission on Tuesday that the two companies have come to an agreement about the situation.

“We’ve worked with the adjacent property owner and their tenant Hereford House on the issues, and we have a private contract that we’ve entered into,” Peterson said.

In addition to entering into a contract that officially designates how parking will be divided between the two entities, plans for the new building have also changed by having the the new restaurant shift 45 feet to the west.

In total, 46 parking spaces would be saved and not removed with this plan as opposed to the previous plan but not without adding some addition challenges, Peterson said.

“When we did that shift… we walked our way into major utility relocations,” Peterson said. “But we wanted to work something out, and it came at a cost, but we are happy.”

Hereford House’s lawyer Greg Musil also came forward during Tuesday’s meeting, saying his clients were satisfied with both the private agreement and the new plan.

The commission’s decision

In an unanimous vote, the planning commission approved both the preliminary and final plan for the steakhouse at their regular Tuesday night meeting.

The only point of contention left between the commission and the developer was over the restaurant’s potential impact on traffic at Town Center.

Initially, after hearing the first plan for the restaurant in August, city staff expressed worries about the new restaurant creating traffic jams at the intersection of 117th and Town Center Drive.

This resulted in a stipulation added to the proposal that would require the developer to cover 33%, or roughly $93,000, of the cost for a traffic light at that intersection, if one eventually needs to be added.

At the meeting, Peterson said the restaurant was willing pay a portion for the traffic light but asked the stipulation be removed in favor of replacing it with a letter of credit, so the steakhouse did not have to hold onto nearly $100,000 for an unknown period of time

However, the planning commission opted to keep the traffic light stipulation in the plan for now.

Overall, the commissioners said they were pleased with the restaurant’s plan and happy to see the developer come to an agreement with Hereford House.

“I am in favor of this,” Commissioner David Coleman said. “I think this is going to be a great addition to Leawood.”

At the next step, the plan will come before the Leawood City Council for final approval.