Joe Tutera and the Tutera Group finally have approval to build a 325,000-square-foot senior living center on the site of the now shuttered Mission Valley Middle School.
By LUKE RANKER
Special to The Star
Following several hours of presentations and discussion Monday night, the Prairie Village City Council had a split vote of 6-6 on the controversial Mission Chateau project, a senior living and residential development at 8500 Mission Road. Mayor Ron Shaffer broke the tie in favor of Tutera’s plan, making the final count 7-6.
Councilman Michael Kelly’s absence was counted as a “no” vote. Unlike the council’s consideration of a similar proposal last September, this vote did not need a supermajority to pass. The first time around, a successful protest petition was on file, requiring 10 votes in favor instead of the usual simple majority.
A protest petition was filed again, but it failed to receive support from the necessary 20 percent of landowners.
The Tutera Group, under the development name MVS LLC, filed for a special use permit for a second plan with the city in October. This plan replaced 17 “villa”-style duplexes along the southern edge of the property with nine single-family lots. Those nine lots will be included on a separate permit. Designers also condensed the planned one- and two- story skilled nursing and memory care unit into a three-story complex. The change reduced the senior living center from 358,040 square feet and 327 units to 325,890 square feet and 310 total units.
The independent and assisted living center, a separate building along Mission Road, was unchanged.
Following the original plan’s defeat in October, Tutera filed a lawsuit challenging the protest petition. That case will be dropped, and Tutera said he expects to break ground on this version of Mission Chateau in six months. It will take 24 months from then to complete.
This version consists of 136 units of independent living and 54 units of assisted living in a 228,340-square-foot building. To the west of that building, 36 units of memory care and 84 skilled nursing units are in a 97,500-square-foot three story building.
The major point of contention for those opposed to the development was the 200-foot buffer zone around the senior living site created when Tutera switched from villas to single-family residential lots on the south side. This moved the boundary of the protest petition from the 18-acre school site to just the 12 acres included in the single use permit. Signatures of property owners to the south on the second protest petition became invalid and the petition was unable to gain the needed 20 percent of property. That minimum had been easily met when those southern neighbors were included in the first protest petition.
John Duggan, an attorney representing the Mission Valley Neighborhood Association, discussed the fairness of this move.
“We believe this was an incredible effort to deny those citizens their due process rights,” he said.
After the council’s decision, Duggan said it was likely his clients would file an appeal on the vote. Because the memory care and skilled nursing unit will require a new city street to be built between Mission Chateau and the nine residential lots, the boundary for the protest petition should begin there, not at the edge of the 12 acre development, he said.
That 200-foot buffer zone and the overall size of the project spurred Councilwoman Laura Wassmer to again vote against the development.
“The fact that this has circumvented our citizens’ right to due process and that the project has come back not smaller but taller, quite frankly it (angers) me,” Wassmer said.
Like previous meetings, public comment on the plan was mixed. Residents around the development, even those to the east who were not considered part of either protest petition, voiced concerns that this plan was still too dense for the area.
In the revised plan, the expected population of the retirement center dropped from 412 to 378, but residents in outlying neighborhoods were more worried about the traffic of visitors and workers coming to Mission Chateau.
Brenda Satterlee expressed concern that Tutera’s plan didn’t include enough parking spaces to accommodate visitors and workers. In her comments, Satterlee said she calculated the number of spaces needed based on how many spaces similar-sized senior living centers in the metro area have and found Tutera’s plan is about 70 parking spaces short of the necessary amount.
“We believe there is going to be a massive parking shortage,” she said.
Many community members, especially those who are older or have aging loved ones, supported the Mission Chateau plan because they think Prairie Village lacks senior living. John Anderson, a lifelong resident of Prairie Village retired from commercial real estate, said younger people may not see the benefit of a retirement home or may be worried about property values in the area. But, he said, the community around his late mother’s retirement home continued to grow, so he believes Prairie Village can, too.
“I will need a senior living facility and so will many of you,” he said.
Prairie Village resident Christina Hoffman said she spends too much time traveling out of the city to visit her parents. Her father, who is disabled, lives in an independent living center, but her mother, who is recovering from surgeries, lives in a separate assisted living center.
“The worst part is they can’t live out the rest of their lives together,” she said. “At this facility that wouldn’t happen.”