A La Quinta Inn and Suites next to Interstate 35 in Lenexa is being considered for a future emergency homeless shelter by county commissioners, who will discuss whether to buy the hotel and a vacant Denny’s next door with $6 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.
The item will get a first review at the commission’s Thursday’s agenda review meeting. After that, the question could go for a vote at the commission’s Dec. 14 regular meeting.
The purchase would be a first step toward establishing a non-congregate shelter with 50 private rooms and support services to help the occupants move toward stable, permanent housing, according to staff reports.
It’s a 106-room hotel near I-35 and 95th Street
If the plan goes forward, the county would contract with United Community Services of Johnson County to find an entity that would take possession at closing and run the facility, which would be open all day every day. That search would take place as the county exercises its due diligence on the sale. The county would have a 270-day window for the due diligence.
According to the proposed contract, Johnson County would buy both buildings from MAA Krupa Lenexa LLC, with $350,000 in earnest money and the remainder due at closing. The county also anticipates spending $500,000 to look into any potential issues before the sale is final.
La Quinta, 9461 Lenexa Dr., is currently a 106-room hotel of 49,290 square feet, according to county property records. It was built in 1977 and appraised this year at $3,445,000.
The former Denny’s, which is 5,492 square feet, was built in 1978 and had an appraised value of $831,000.
Addressing homelessness has become a county priority
The project is seen as a way to address a 40-bed lack of emergency shelter space in Johnson County.
According to a count conducted by United Community Services on Jan. 25, there were 235 people experiencing homelessness in Johnson County, 50 of whom were not in any kind of temporary shelter.
The facility proposed for Lenexa is intended for adults without children with an anticipated stay of one to three months. Residents would not be required to leave the shelter during the day.
In that respect it differs from Project 1020, an emergency overnight shelter about a mile away at the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church on Pflumm Road. That shelter is only open during the winter months and requires its residents to leave during the day.
Earlier this year, the commission set aside $6 million of federal coronavirus aid money for an “unhoused solutions” fund. Commissioners also heard a feasibility study from NCircle/Dignity Project on the ongoing costs and operations of such an endeavor.
Public comments, vote could come Dec. 14
According to staff background reports, La Quinta is the preferred choice for a shelter because of its size, price and location.
The hotel and former restaurant afford enough space that the shelter could be expanded to meet future needs. It is also away from residential housing and near major streets and the interstate, giving residents easier access to transportation to employment.
The hotel site also fits better into the county budget, at a time when land and construction prices in Johnson County continue to be high, the reports said.
Commissioners on Thursday will review the proposal and decide whether to take a final vote on December 14. The review session Thursday will not include public comments, but the December 14 meeting will.
Go deeper: A question-and-answer page on the proposed shelter can be found on the county website.
Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.