As expected, the Prairie Village City Council is moving forward with plans to redevelop the 137-acre Meadowbrook Golf and Country Club in Prairie Village.
But several council members made it clear that they had concerns that they want resolved before being asked this fall to give the project their final approval.
The council on Monday unanimously adopted a memorandum of understanding with developer VanTrust Real Estate, Johnson County Park and Recreation District and Johnson County Wastewater. The non-binding document, first discussed during a June 15 city council meeting, lays out a general framework for the developers, the city and other parties to negotiate the development in the coming months.
VanTrust plans to develop part of the property bordered by 91st and 95th streets and Nall and Roe avenues for a senior living complex, luxury apartments, single-family homes, two neighborhoods of town homes and a boutique hotel. The city is expected to buy the remaining 88 acres from VanTrust and donate it to the park and recreation district for a park.
To pay for the park land and park developments, the city would create a Tax Increment Financing district for the area and sell up to $9.5 million in general obligation bonds and up to $7 million in special obligation bonds. The city would use additional property tax revenue generated by the areas VanTrust is developing to pay for the general obligation bonds, although city taxpayers would be responsible if those taxes didn’t cover the debt payments. The developers would take the loss if the special obligation bonds go unpaid.
The memorandum also includes provisions that the city have a say in how the park is developed and be able to add restrictions to the property deed limiting how the park land is used.
Councilman David Morrison read a letter from fellow Councilman Dan Runion, who could not attend Monday night’s meeting, saying he felt the memorandum was premature because so many of the details were still unknown, such as how much the city would pay for the park land and what interest rate the city would pay for the bonds.
“While the draft (memorandum) provided is non-binding, it would be inadvisable to agree to terms and then have to negotiate our way out of those terms,” Runion wrote. “Doing so risks subjecting our taxpayers to increased taxes.”
Several council members said they also were unhappy that the memorandum currently splits incoming tax revenue to pay off the bonds 50-50 between the city-backed general obligation and the special obligation bonds even though the general obligation bonds make up 60 percent of the total.
“If this document is the best that we can do and we’re not supposed to worry about the details,” said Councilwoman Jori Nelson, “then I’m unclear as to why those parameters are even set in there.”
City Administrator Quinn Bennion and City Attorney Catherine Logan said those provisions would be hammered out in the final development agreement, for which the city must also hold public hearings and approve. They said the memorandum’s main purpose is to justify the effort and time the city, the developer and the other parities will spend on the project.
“The development agreement is months away from being ready,” Bennion said. “There’s a lot of progress that needs to be made.”
The next steps for the project include creating the development agreement, establishing the Tax Increment Financing district, drafting a plan for the park development and sending the development through the planning and zoning process. Most of those steps won’t happen until the end of the year, Bennion has said.
He added that the city is planning to soon add a section to the city’s website (pvkansas.com) with answers to frequently asked questions about the project.