Merriam approves $130M redevelopment of former Kmart site — Here are the details

Merriam Kmart

Merriam Grand Station, the $130 million redevelopment plan for the former Kmart site off Shawnee Mission Parkway and Antioch Road, is moving forward. Image courtesy Drake Development.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the city council unanimously approved the items necessary to move the project forward. One councilmember voted in opposition of one item necessary to approve the project.

The Merriam City Council on Monday approved a redevelopment agreement and preliminary development plan for a much-discussed and long-anticipated project to remake the former Kmart property near Shawnee Mission Parkway and Antioch Road into a new $130 million mixed-use site.

Bigger picture: The project, dubbed Merriam Grand Station, encompasses roughly 10,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, 10,000 square feet of civic space, a parking structure and two apartment buildings with at least 350 total units.

  • The city council on Monday approved a slew of the items necessary to move the project forward, putting it on track toward completion by Dec. 31, 2026.
  • Councilmember David Neal voted in opposition on one of the items, the ordinance adopting the redevelopment plan.
  • The council approved a redevelopment agreement with Merriam Grand Station LLC — which is majority owned by Matt Pennington, president of Overland Park-based Drake Development.
  • Following the meeting, Pennington confirmed with the Post that this is Drake’s redevelopment project.

Key quote: “I think what we have in front of us this evening is a deal that reflects a void in our community, I think it reflects things that our residents will grow to appreciate when they see it grow out of what is there currently,” City Administrator Chris Engel said.

What does public financing look like? The following, as outlined in city documents, are part of the public financing for Merriam Grand Station:

  • A maximum of $25 million in tax increment financing eligible expenses, which “will come from project-generated increment and existing Interstate 35 TIF District fund balances.”
  • An estimated $4.5 million in sales tax interest revenue bonds for exemption on construction.
  • The TIF payments can be reduced or suspended for a number of reasons, including if the developer fails to meet the development schedule or reduces the amount of retail or restaurant space.
  • An estimated $7.8 million in benefits from property tax industrial revenue bonds for the two apartment complexes, with a 10-year property tax abatement.
  • Up to $400,000 in waived city development and inspection fees, as the developer will pay all of third-party inspection fees.
Merriam Grand Station civic center
Developers plan to include a live plant wall between the parking structure and the civic center pictured above. Image courtesy Drake Development.

Background: The city council got a first look at the more than $130 million plan in April, which detailed restaurant and retail space, two apartment buildings and 10,0000 square feet of civic space.

Resident, council input: During discussions Monday, several questions were raised about the potential impact the project could have on traffic in the area, along with its affect on nearby residents.

  • Developers and city staff say they are still working with the Kansas Department of Transportation on formally submitting a traffic study for the project.
  • The developers will be adding a deceleration lane on eastbound Shawnee Mission Parkway into the development, according to city documents.
  • During public comments, one resident said they were curious to see what the line of sight would be for nearby residents with two separate four-story apartment complexes planned for the site.
Merriam Grand Station civic center
Image courtesy Drake Development.

The timeline: A public hearing and request for consideration of the issuance of the industrial revenue bonds will come before the city council at a later date.

  • Developers are to start demolition of the old Kmart and begin sitework on or before Dec. 31, 2022.
  • The commercial and residential portions of the project needs to be “pad ready” on or before Dec. 31, 2023, according to the plans approved Monday.
  • A year beyond that, developers need to be finished with the construction of infrastructure.
  • The “outparcel” elements of the project, including the three restaurants, need to be completed and operational on or before June 30, 2025. Six months later, the parking portion of the project needs to be completed.
  • Merriam Grand Station needs to be completed and operational on or before Dec. 31, 2026.