A QuikTrip in my neighborhood? Not so fast, say midtown homes associations

04/29/2014 5:15 PM

04/30/2014 10:02 AM

Midtown Kansas City neighborhoods are presenting a united front against a proposal to open a QuikTrip store at 33rd Street and Southwest Trafficway.

Leaders of the Coleman Highlands, Valentine, Volker and Roanoke neighborhood associations and the Broadway Westport Council have sent letters to city leaders, opposing the Tulsa-based chain’s plan to put a QuikTrip at the southeast corner of the intersection.

QuikTrip wants to put a “third-generation” convenience store with several gasoline pumps on a vacant, nearly one-acre plot owned by Kansas City Life Insurance Co.

Neighborhood leaders say they have met with Patricia Jensen, a lawyer who is representing QuikTrip in the matter. Jensen could not be reached for comment, but QuikTrip’s manager of public and government relations, Mike Thornbrugh, confirmed that QuikTrip had a development option on the land.

“They came to talk to us early on,” said Kerry Browne of Browne’s Irish Marketplace, 3300 Pennsylvania Ave., whose store and restaurant are directly east of the proposed development site. “The neighborhood is part of our fiber. We’ve worked with Kansas City Life for many years, and they had told us that they were going to work with the neighbors and build something in keeping with that.

“A couple of years ago they presented us with drawings of a plan for a mixed-use residential development with an old look, and the neighbors really wanted it. With all the energy coming into downtown and midtown, I don’t know why they would want to do something that would tear up the neighborhood.”

A Kansas City Life spokesman declined to comment.

Jeff Harms, president of the Coleman Highlands Neighborhood Association, said his members were concerned about the increased traffic, noise and light that a convenience store on the site would generate. Coleman Highlands borders the west side of Southwest Trafficway.

“It’s not in conjunction with the current midtown-Plaza city plan,” Harms said. “The area is primarily residential.

“Adding a QuikTrip is quite an issue from a traffic perspective. There is no left-turn lane on the trafficway, so it would dramatically increase traffic through Coleman Highlands with people trying to go east on 33rd.”

According to zoning maps available through the city’s website, the parcel has two zoning classifications attached to it: residential and commercial business district. Thus QuikTrip would need a rezoning of at least the residential portion to build there, plus a liquor license to carry its normal stock of beer and liquor. That is why neighbors have expressed their concerns to city officials.

City Councilwoman Jan Marcason was one of those who received the April 11 letter sent by the neighborhood associations.

“They have concerns,” she said. “It’s a residential neighborhood.”

In addition to the rezoning, Marcason said, QuikTrip wants to add a left-turn lane to southbound Southwest Trafficway, something she called “unprecedented.”

“It’s a good thing, when a developer has a project, to start off by going to the neighbors for their input,” Marcason said. “But if the neighbors object, they will have a difficult time moving forward.

“There is a reason why the zoning is in place. It’s good for that area. If the neighbors make a good case and come out strongly united in opposition, rarely does the city go against their objection.”

Thornbrugh said the chain has yet to make a formal application for rezoning or a liquor license.

“At this point we are really in the fact-finding stage,” Thornbrugh said. “QuikTrip always tries, before we submit anything to a governmental body, to talk to everybody who may be affected and be up front and answer any questions.

“We have not had the opportunity to do our normal due diligence in this case. We’re going to continue to reach out to the various groups and hopefully sit down and have great discussions and invite their input.”

Scott Burnett, a Jackson County legislator who lives in Coleman Highlands, has helped to organize opposition. He joined in signing the letter from neighborhood association leaders that was sent to the mayor, the city manager and the area’s City Council members.

“It just isn’t in the right place,” he said. “People like QuikTrip. It’s efficient. It’s clean. But I have gotten 150 emails against it.”

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