Promontory developer drops retail for more apartments in OP project’s next phase

The planned third phase of the Promontory on Metcalf Avenue is set to be built on the site of a strip mall that currently contains a Half Price Books, which is moving out this summer. Photo credit Kyle Palmer.

Another Overland Park developer wants to substitute apartment units for the original plan — this time due to continued difficulty in the retail market.

The developer for the Promontory, at the northeast corner of 91st Street and Metcalf Avenue, has asked for changes in an agreement with the city that allows the ground-floor shops in its original plan to be replaced by apartments with brownstone-style architecture.

Attorney Curtis Petersen, representing Arbor Development LLC, said the developer is “pivoting away on this first floor part because it’s just not possible in the market.”

In his letter to the city council’s Finance, Administration and Economic Development Committee, Petersen called the market for in-line retail “non-existent,” and noted that in a mixed-use part of the project that is already built, the ground floor retail remains only about half leased.

The apartments, however, are “functionally full,” at about 95% leased.

The developer had planned the third phase building to be about 120 apartment units above a shopping area. Changing the retail to apartments could add around 30 units, Petersen said. The first phase building has 291 units.

A second phase is already in the works for an entertainment area called SERV nearby, that includes pickleball courts and outdoor food kiosks.

There’s already a building where the third phase would be. It’s occupied by Half Price Books. But the bookstore will move out this summer, leaving the building empty.

The developer wants to demolish the former bookstore building and replace it.

Changing the plan for the first floor of that new building to apartments from retail will require changes to proposed tax incentives.

Petersen said the developer would agree to a $1.9 million reduction in the cap on tax from a Community Improvement District due to the change.

The committee at its meeting May 18 unanimously agreed to ask city staff to draw up the changes.

Councilmember Tom Carignan said he has not always supported similar multifamily projects in the past. But the change could become a catalyst to the area, he said.

“I think having some additional people there warrants some support,” he said.

Councilmember Holly Grummert noted the project creates more density along Metcalf, which is part of the long-range vision for the area. It also could help connect east and west parts of town, she added.

“I feel like this is going to be a great addition to this corridor,” she said.

The Promontory is the second project north of Interstate 435 to substitute apartments in its post-pandemic plans.

The next phase of Metcalf 108, near Interstate 435 and Metcalf, had been conceived as office space. But due to problems finding enough tenants, the developer has proposed apartments instead.

Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at roxieham@gmail.com