Lenexa OKs TIF for townhomes project in growing western half of city

A rendering of the townhomes in the Villas of Vista Village project presented to the Lenexa City Council earlier this year. Image via Lenexa city documents.

The Lenexa City Council unanimously approved an ordinance this week creating a tax increment financing district for the proposed Villas at Vista Village mixed-use development at the southwest corner of Prairie Star Parkway and Valhalla Road.

What’s the project? Villas at Vista Village is part of the broader proposed Vista Village mixed-use development at the southeast corner of Prairie Star Parkway and Ridgeview Road, just west of the future site for the city’s planned new justice center.

  • According to council documents (p. 43 of this document), Villas at Vista Village would comprise a 6,000-square-foot retail building and a mix of two-, four-, five- and six-unit townhome buildings on 25 acres.
  • Prairie Ridge LLC, a company headed up by Olathe-based West Star Development, leads Vista Village’s development. An official with West Star couldn’t be reached for comment for this story

What is TIF? Tax increment financing 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.

What was approved this week: At its meeting Tuesday night, the city council unanimously passed a resolution approving Villas at Vista Village’s redevelopment plan, which grants the developer, LUXE LLC, $5 million in public reimbursable TIF for the project.

  • The council also passed a resolution agreeing to issue up to $32.5 million in industrial revenue bonds for the project, to be repaid by the developer, not the city
  • The council approved the measures Tuesday without discussion. Ward 1 Councilmember Joe Karlin and Ward 2 Councilmember Thomas Nolte were absent.

Prior affordability concerns: In January, the council unanimously approved a revised preliminary plan for Vista Village, a 46-acre development comprising seven retail buildings, a 207-unit condominium building, 119 townhomes and an amphitheater.

  • Mayor Mike Boehm and councilmembers at that time shared overall support for the project and the developer, though the mayor expressed some hesitation over the concentration of high-end housing and plans to build the residential portion in an area that marks one of the last undeveloped sites in the city that has previously been dedicated for office or commercial uses.
  • Boehm expressed particular concern that some of the project’s apartment units could be too expensive for many residents and thereby fail to fulfill a need for more attainable housing.
  • Councilmembers also wanted to ensure smooth access points to the site from Prairie Star Parkway and Ridgeview Road.

A growing Lenexa: The Vista Village project site is located in a high-growth area as Lenexa develops westward, with the completion of Ridgeview Road, the planned new justice center and new residential neighborhoods built in recent 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.