I am a resident of Overland Park and a business and commercial property owner near the proposed Central Square project at 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue.
This property is part of Vision Metcalf and was specifically identified in the plan as one of the Vision Metcalf nodes. Vision Metcalf is a comprehensive plan and guide for the redevelopment of the Metcalf Avenue corridor generally adopted by the city in 2007. It is a bold, comprehensive, progressive long-range plan for future redevelopment along Metcalf, and I am proud and grateful to the city planning staff for strongly supporting and courageously defending Vision Metcalf in connection with the application submitted by local developer 95 Metcalf Properties Inc.
Vison Metcalf, if followed, will result in development that will promote sustainable development and encourage new financial activity and residential growth in the more established neighborhoods generally north of 103rd Street and south of 75th Street.
I personally attended the neighborhood meetings, so I was shocked and disappointed to read Mr. Owen Buckley, a principal with and spokesman for developer, quoted in The Star saying, “we’re not going to promise something we know we can’t successfully deliver.”
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At those meetings, the most common comment from members of the community was the concern that the site would be anchored by a Wal-Mart or other big box store. It was crystal clear at those meetings that developing this approximately 60-acre site with a big box store and its accompanying typical layout featuring acres of paved parking as a focal point was opposed by the majority of citizens attending.
The same Mr. Buckley represented at those meetings that the developers would listen to the community and stated that he would deliver a project that reflected the sentiments expressed. He generally promised an exciting mixed-use development containing retail, office, residential and significant green spaces for community uses and designed to promote pedestrian traffic. That is certainly not the proposal that he submitted to the city. Instead, the developer proposed a plan that totally ignored the spirit and intent of Vision Metcalf!
Mr. Buckley, a longtime successful real estate developer in the area, and his partners were obviously aware of Vision Metcalf before he and his co-owner purchased the property in 2014 and during the time he personally led the neighborhood meetings. The professionals they have hired to design and manage the rezoning process are also familiar with Vision Metcalf.
It now appears to me that the so-called neighborhood meetings were nothing more than a typical dog and pony show that only provided lip service and were intended primarily to obtain community support rather than a sincere effort by the developers to genuinely invite neighborhood involvement and gauge local sentiment.
In leading such an effort, Mr. Buckley has irreparably damaged his credibility.
Max Gordon served on the Overland Park City Council from 1993 to 1997 representing Ward 5, which at the time included the area of the proposed development. He has been a resident of Overland Park since 1967 and owns commercial property at and operates a business in Windmill Village Office Park across the street from the property.