Apartments for ‘active adults’ 55 and older will replace vacant office building on Shawnee Mission Parkway in Fairway

Fairway Corporate Center

On Monday night, the Fairway City Council approved a redevelopment agreement to turn the aging and vacant Fairway Corporate Center in the 4200 block of Shawnee Mission Parkway, above, into a 221-unit, high-end apartment complex aimed at "active adults" who are 55 and older. The council also approved a resolution to approve up to $27 million in industrial revenue bonds for the project. File image.

The Fairway City Council on Monday night took further steps toward bringing a proposed $65 million “active adult” apartment complex to fruition at the vacant Fairway Office Park in the 4200 block of Shawnee Mission Parkway.

The council passed an ordinance (on pg. 72 of this linked document) by a 6-2 vote adopting a redevelopment plan and approving a redevelopment agreement for the project. A two-thirds vote, or supermajority, was required to pass the ordinance.

Ward 1 Councilmember Kelly-Ann Buszek and Ward 4 Councilmember Jenna Brofsky voted no.

The council also approved a resolution by a 6-2 vote to issue up to $27 million in industrial revenue bonds for the project.

The bonds exempt the developer from paying sales tax on building materials, furniture, fixtures and equipment, a representative with the city’s bond counsel said. The city is not liable for payment of the bonds, and their issuance does not affect the city’s credit rating.

EPC Real Estate Group is the project’s lead developer and Kansas City-based holding company Platform Ventures is the co-developer.

Project details

The roughly 260,000-square-foot, five-story project is set to have 221 apartments and cost about $65 million to build, Austin Bradley, EPC’s executive vice president, told the Shawnee Mission Post after the meeting Monday.

The 20-year value of tax-increment financing, or TIF, the city granted the developers is capped at $10 million, about $7.5 million of which will pay for a parking garage, Bradley said.

TIF is a public financing tool through which a private developer of a blighted property is reimbursed 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 be financially feasible without TIF.

Bradley said the development team had done market studies up to 10 miles from the project site and concluded the area has a “significant population that’s aging.” The project will give those residents 55 and older who want to stay in Fairway a place to rent, he said.

He said during the meeting that the project’s design team would start work immediately. Demolition is targeted for the third quarter of this year and groundbreaking by year’s end.

Disagreement over TIF

Mayor Melanie Hepperly said during the meeting that she had been “very negative” about TIF but that she “kept an open mind” and concluded “the city financially is protected here.”

“This is a huge decision for Fairway,” Hepperly said. “It’s not one that I personally take lightly or that the council takes lightly. … We are being asked to be visionaries. That is very difficult to do. But that’s what we’re elected to do.”

In opposing public financial incentives for the project, Brofsky said she “had been consistently skeptical of the TIF and I remain so.”

“These days, many if not every developer will ask for a TIF because, why not? It’s money.”

The $10 million in TIF funds for the developer “has to come from somewhere,” she said, adding that libraries and the community college will lose out on that money.

Developers to reimburse public in other ways

The city said in a Monday news release, which Bradley verified, that in return for TIF and industrial revenue bonds, the developers will pay the community more than $3.1 million over 20 years, excluding payments for possible traffic improvements, as follows:

  • Pay the city more than $2.7 million to enhance public safety
  • Pay the city up to $100,000 for administrative costs.
  • Pay Consolidated Fire District #2 about $200,000 in fees to for additional fire and safety needs
  • Pay the Shawnee Indian Mission Foundation at least $5,000 a year
  • Pay up to $500,000 for unanticipated traffic improvements identified within the first two years

Jerry LaMartina is a freelance journalist who contributes frequently to the Shawnee Mission Post and other Kansas City-area publications. He can be reached at lamartina.jerry@gmail.com.