A rewritten development agreement Overland Park officials are discussing aims to get a more finished look to the Prairiefire development, which will eventually include new locations for Chicken and Pickle and Andy’s Frozen Custard. The agreement makes major changes to public financing for a project that has become smaller since first being proposed.
The city council’s Finance, Administration and Economic Development committee on March 18 green-lighted an amendment that will require a wetlands bridge, trails, parking and infrastructure plus 60,000 square feet of retail to be completed before public financing money starts to flow.
The plan applies to the second phase of the development at 135th Street and Nall Avenue. While the first phase, which includes the Museum at Prairiefire, has been complete since 2014, the second phase has been delayed. Andy’s Frozen Custard was announced as the first retail tenant in December, 2018, and Chicken N Pickle, a combination eatery, bar and pickleball courts that originated in North Kansas City, announced intentions to locate there last September.
Attorney Curtis Petersen, who represented the developer, said the requirement for infrastructure will make a big difference in how the land looks. “It’s going to make it pretty compelling,” he said.
Other changes are also proposed to the development deal with the city. STAR bonds (Sales Tax Revenue Bonds) are no longer part of the package. The previous iteration of the agreement had the city issuing $46 million in STAR bonds. The bonds focus on tourism destinations, but the first phase underperformed on its STAR bonds.
The Community Improvement District, a special taxing district to raise funds for some development costs, has also been restructured to become a pay-as-you-go and a planned hotel would not be eligible to receive those funds. In addition, CID revenues would be capped at $11.9 million and those funds could not exceed 19 percent of eligible developer costs. CID money will come from a 22-year, 1.5 percent sales tax in the affected area.
Additional restrictions were added to proposed sales tax exemption for equipment and materials.
The new agreement also reduces the square footage to be built. Retail would drop from 142,700 square feet to 90,000 and office space would decrease from 66,000 to 60,000. Also, 175 previously planned residential units have disappeared from the Phase 2 plan.
The agreement also makes some changes to museum operations, although the museum is in the first phase of building. The museum Foundation would be able to get exhibits from groups that include the Smithsonian, Cosmosphere, NASA, National Geographic and the Gates Foundation. The museum ended its contract with the American Museum of Natural History for exhibits. Petersen said that organization would still be allowed, but would not be exclusive.
The committee gave its unanimous blessing to the new agreement, which will be considered by the full council at a later meeting.