It’s known for small-town charm, but downtown Overland Park may soon emit a cooler vibe.
At its meeting Monday evening, the city council took action on several projects — a popular art center and three mixed-use developments —that could breathe a hipper energy into the shopping district.
The council kicked off the evening by approving a funding agreement with InterUrban ArtHouse for a one-time grant of $162,500, which will help with the purchase of the downtown Overland Park Post Office building.
The cultural center, which was founded in 2012, is currently located in a downtown Overland Park basement unit. With art studios and event space, InterUrban ArtHouse serves more than 4,000 people annually, including students.
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Once the property is purchased by InterUrban ArtHouse, the post office will become a permanent tenant. The rest of the building will be used for additional studio and programming space, with the loading dock being transformed into a front porch.
Later in the meeting, the council approved a public hearing to consider whether a redevelopment district should be created for a major mixed-use development project, called The Vue, which is proposed for 80th and Marty.
If created, the redevelopment district would make The Vue eligible for tax increment financing, otherwise known as a TIF. The developer, Hunt Midwest Enterprises, is seeking a $6.7 million TIF and also a $460,000 community improvement district.
The $39 million project features 216 market-rate apartments and a public-access parking garage. It also includes 10,000 square feet of retail space.
If approved, The Vue, which would sit south of the Rio Theatre, would require the demolition of two buildings.
The public hearing will be held at the Aug. 17 city council meeting.
The council also agreed to consider TIF incentives and redevelopment plans for two other mixed-use developments, Interurban Lofts and Market Lofts.
The Interurban Lofts, a $9.3 million project intended for 79th and Conser streets, plans to feature 41 apartment units.
The Market Lofts, an $8.9 million project, also planned for 80th and Marty streets, is set to have 36 apartment units.
Both will feature retail or office space as well.
At the meeting, a couple council members expressed concern with the amount of TIF projects being approved or considered recently.
But other council members felt there wasn’t a major concern just yet.
“Keep in mind, we’ve been trying to revitalize downtown for years and now we’re finally gaining momentum,” said Councilman Curt Skoog. “People are getting excited.”
Councilman Terry Goodman agreed.
For the time being, the council needs to take consider each project individually, rather than make a sweeping judgment, he said.
“They all offer unique elements, even though they’re just blocks away from each other,” he said. “Residential density is an essential component of downtown because that will help the theater and eclectic shops thrive.”