Gladstone project is big step toward goal for downtown

04/09/2013 12:00 AM

05/20/2014 10:41 AM

Gladstone’s effort to create a downtown center took a major step forward last week with the formal announcement of a $28 million housing and retail development.

The project, called The Heights at Linden Square, will bring 222 luxury apartments and 10,000 square feet of retail center to an area the city is hoping will become its downtown.

“It’s exciting, that’s for sure,” Gladstone Mayor Carol Suter said . “It’s a continuation of the plan that we’ve had for the new downtown center.”

That goal is taking a lot of planning, persistence and patience.

“Our citizens wanted a downtown center and they wanted it to be a mix of uses and activities — from retail to civic to recreational to cultural entertainment to residential,” Suter said. “This project kind of delivers on all of those fronts.”

The city is expecting the development to attract boutique-type retail as well as a coffee shop or even a restaurant.

The project, planned for the southeast corner of North Locust Street and Northeast 70th Street, is being developed and managed by Flaherty & Collins Properties of Indianapolis.

The hope is that the new development — along with Gladstone’s Community Center and Natatorium, new Linden Square and a nearly completed two-story office building — will help spur future development of the city’s downtown center.

As an incentive, the city is providing the developer with $4.7 million in Chapter 100 bonds. The developer will responsible for repaying the bonds.

The city, which owns the property, also will provide a 25-year property tax abatement. At the end of 25 years, Gladstone will convey the property to Flaherty & Collins.

The city also negotiated $600,000 in payments-in-lieu-of-taxes that would be paid to various taxing jurisdictions over the 25-year period. The North Kansas City School district will receive $440,000 of those payments.

Also, Gladstone will spend about $3 million in public infrastructure.

“Frankly we had already started some of it, but it is still part of this package” said Kirk Davis, Gladstone’s city manager.

The development is forecast to bring in an estimated $100 million in sales taxes over 20 years, said city spokesman Richard King.

The creation of the downtown center has been a long time coming. Its beginnings can be traced to a land use study for the North Oak Trafficway corridor in 1999 and 2000.

Over the years, the study has guided the city in acquiring about 45 acres around 70th Street and building a community center and natatorium at Northeast 70th and North Holmes streets.

More recently, the city built Linden Square, an entertainment venue with a small amphitheater at 602 N.E. 70th St. that was dedicated on Friday.

“Visions don’t just happen, you have to actually make them happen,” Suter said.

It’s that’s vision that attracted Flaherty & Collins, said Ryan Cronk, vice president of development.

“We thought it was a cool project,” Cronk said. “The city has a good vision of what it wants to do and the redevelopment. We wanted to be part of that.”

Dean Katerndahl, director of government innovations forum at the Mid-America Regional Council, called the project an important development for Gladstone.

“They deserve a lot of credit for being very persistent in developing and pursuing their vision,” said Katerndahl, who is also the staff coordinator for the First Suburbs Coalition. “It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of foresight.”

He said Gladstone’s experience should serve as an example to other first suburbs — older areas close to the metro center — that are also creating or revitalizing their own downtowns.

“You have to take a persistent approach,” he said. “You can’t give up when it doesn’t happen in two years. You have to stick to it. Persistence is really important.”

And while Gladstone formally announced the Heights at Linden Square development, it hopes the attention spurs interest in its downtown center.

“We are getting calls from other developers interested in other parts of parts of our downtown area,” King said. “We have a little over 40 acres for development.”

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