816 Business

December 24, 2013

Raytown chooses preferred vision for downtown property

It’s only a first step, but city leaders agree to seek more information about an Indianapolis firm’s concept for the former First Baptist Church property, which the city now owns. This was the site where a controversial Wal-Mart grocery store had been proposed before that plan was withdrawn.

After considering three concepts for developing the downtown property once considered for a Wal-Mart grocery store, Raytown officials are pursuing a mixed-use rental and retail project for the site just off Blue Ridge Boulevard.

The Board of Aldermen, during a work session last week, unanimously agreed to direct Tom Cole, the city’s economic development administrator, to seek more details about a proposal submitted by an Indianapolis developer.

The proposal, from Flaherty & Collins. includes a possible grocery store, a possible new City Hall and some 200 rental apartments.

The structure, which could stand up to five stories, could attract as many as 325 residents to Raytown’s downtown district, generate perhaps $30 million in construction investment and perhaps create 500 construction jobs.

“The Flaherty & Collins proposal definitely met the overall goals that Raytown has had for its downtown for quite a while – a nice multi-family development with some mixed use,” Cole said.

While the Flaherty & Collins recommendation was only the first step in a long process, Cole said, all 10 members of the Board of Aldermen, along with Mayor David Bower, agreed with the selection.

City officials had issued a request for proposals in September, soliciting development plans for the 3.78-acre plot.

The site, at 10009 E. 62nd St., is the former location of the First Baptist Church of Raytown. In early 2009 the city demolished the church, which it had purchased, returning the site to green space.

This past May, the Board of Aldermen voted 6-4 to relax some zoning regulations to accommodate a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market at the location. But the idea proved controversial and, in June, Wal-Mart pulled the plan.

In their recent request for proposals, Raytown officials had described their community as an “aging suburb that greatly desires to establish new life in its downtown district.”

In 2001, the board approved a Raytown Central Business District Plan. That document emphasized the importance of “place-making” and encouraged the establishment of a space where residents could both work and live.

Raytown’s comparatively compact geography of about 10 square miles, according to the request, “lacks a central core or vibrant heart.”

The Flaherty & Collins proposal, Cole said, could create “density for downtown.”

Besides apartments, the plan also could include thousands of square feet devoted to retail. Whether that space would be filled by one retailer or several is unknown.

The proposal also included the possibility of a new City Hall.

“That may or may not be feasible,” Cole said. “Our City Hall is kind of adequate.”

All three proposals, Cole added, were highly conceptual in nature. He said his task over the next three months will be to work with Flaherty & Collins and report back to board members realistic scenarios of just what could work at the location.

“The variables include what things will cost, what Flaherty & Collins will bring to the table and what is expected of the city,” Cole said.

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