Northeast JoCo mayors point to development boom in ‘State of Cities’ speeches

Mayor Ron Shaffer addressed the crowd at the ceremony commemorating substantial completion of the redevelopments of Corinth Square in October 2012. Redevelopment projects were a recurring theme during northeast Johnson County mayors’ ‘State of the Cities’ speeches Thursday.

Redevelopment and strong finances were the two themes of the day for northeast Johnson County mayors during he annual “State of the Cities” addresses they gave Thursday.

The projects ranged from Mission’s East Gateway, only approved by the council the night before, to the rehabbing of Corinth Square in Prairie Village, a project that has been under way for several months. Prairie Village Mayor Ron Shaffer also pointed to the upcoming rehab of the Village Shops, which began this week with demolition of the Waid’s building that will be replaced by a Starbucks building, he told the crowd.

Shaffer also highlighted the city’s premier events — the Jazz Festival and Art Fair, the AAA financial rating, and the savings captured from its geothermal retrofit. Challenges for Prairie Village: the Mission Valley redevelopment controversy, standing firm against open carry and keeping the Prairie Village Post Office open.

Like Mission, Westwood Mayor John Yé could point to a freshly minted redevelopment project at Rainbow Boulevard and 47th Place where the city just days ago approved plans for a residential and retail project and redevelopment of the Woodside Health and Tennis Club. Yé also highlighted the importance of Westwood View School to the city and surrounding cities and Westwood’s efforts to support the school. When Sprint left its Westwood headquarters, a big chunk of tax base went with it, but Yé said the city is forming new partnerships with The University of Kansas Hospital, which took over the property.

In Fairway, Jerry Wiley said the Fairway shops are now fully occupied, that the city’s finances have turned around, that new home permits are rising and the city is undergoing a visioning process. Challenges for Fairway, he said, are dealing with 31 remaining homes in the flood plain, planning for the lease expiration at city hall in 2015 and finding local support for the Shawnee Indian Mission.

Mission Mayor Laura McConwell said Martway and Johnson Drive reconstruction projects start this year, the new city pool will be built and West Gateway continues to develop.

In Roeland Park, city administrator Aaron Otto recounted a series of successes in the face of losing significant Walmart revenue. Among the positives are coming developments at the Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue intersection, a new park at a former school site, improvements to the aquatic center and the fact all commercial property is occupied.

Westwood Hills Mayor John Heeney said the city of 175 homes and 400 residents is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and is exploring historic district status for the entire city.

The program at Sylvester Powell Community Center was sponsored by the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce.

Westwood Mayor John Yé delivering his State of the City speech. Photo courtesy NEJC Chamber of Commerce.

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