Fairway commission approves plan for ‘active adult’ apartments off SM Parkway

A developer has proposed building an apartment complex for "active adults" on the site of a vacant office building off Shawnee Mission Parkway. Above, a rendering of the project via Klover Architects.

The Fairway Planning Commission this week unanimously approved plans for a proposed $65-$70 million “active adult” apartment complex at the vacant Fairway Office Park in the 4200 block of Shawnee Mission Parkway.

At its meeting Monday night, the commission approved the project’s final development plan, site plan and plat.

What happens next: The plat will go to the city council for its consideration June 13, City Clerk Kim Young said in an email Tuesday.

  • The final site and development plans are not required to return to the council.

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

  • Austin Bradley, EPC’s executive vice president, said in an interview Tuesday that the apartments would range from about 700 square feet to about 1,600 square feet and have one or two bedrooms.
  • Rents would range from about $1,500 to about $3,800 a month.

When will work start? Demolition is planned to start in late summer or early fall and construction by year’s end, Bradley said. Construction is expected to take two years to complete.

  • Henry Klover, president of Klover Architects in Lenexa, made a presentation to the commission Monday on the project’s updated plans. He said he expected work to begin soon involving the project’s utilities, easements and water lines and then the permit application to be submitted within three to four weeks.

Details: According to council documents, the project’s final plan calls for 210 apartments in about 250,000 square feet, excluding parking, on 5.3 acres, with 336 parking spaces (289 in a garage and 47 surface spaces).

Amenities would include the following:

  • A club room
  • Concierge services
  • A wellness and fitness center
  • An event/display kitchen and bistro
  • A movie theater
  • A salon
  • Two outdoor courtyards with a swimming pool, outdoor kitchen, fire pits, gathering spaces and a community garden
  • A creative arts center

Some concerns addressed: Planning Commission Chair Wendy Bailey asked Klover about concerns that light from the development could shine into the backyards of nearby homes and how the project would affect area traffic, both of which the commission had discussed when it considered the project’s preliminary plan.

  • That plan included results of a short traffic study, which concluded that the project would have less traffic than the former office park on the site had. A full traffic study would take as long as a few years to conduct.
  • Klover said that, with the exception of a drive lane, “there is no lighting that would be what I would consider to be light pollution. They’re all going to be controlled; they’re not going to be shining out.” This includes lights in windows and on decks and ground lighting, he said.

Public incentives: The council approved a tax-increment financing district for the project last November.

  • In March, the council passed an ordinance (on p. 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.
  • 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.
  • Bradley told the Shawnee Mission Post in March that the 20-year value of TIF the city granted the developers was capped at $10 million, about $7.5 million of which would pay for a parking garage.

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.

Demand? The developers hired a Texas-based consulting company to do a market study, which determined a greater demand existed for larger units than for studio apartments.

  • Bradley also said in March that 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 would give those residents 55 and older who want to stay in Fairway a place to rent, he said.

Return for TIF: The city said in March that in return for TIF and industrial revenue bonds, the developers would 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 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.