More than four years after the Olathe Commons apartment complex on 119th Street was approved, the development is undergoing big changes.
The Olathe Planning Commission on Monday voted 7-0 to recommend rezoning a portion of the site to accommodate commercial development.
The owner, Maecommon LLC, plans to build four buildings containing 89,500 square feet on almost 13 acres at the intersection of 119th Street and Shannon Lane, just west of the Olathe Pointe shopping center.
The commercial development, which will go before the City Council for a final vote on April 3, would take the place of three three-story apartment buildings included in the original apartment complex plan, which was approved in October 2013. The rest of the apartment complex, including 20 10-unit apartment buildings, remains unchanged.
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Commissioner Michael Rinke noted that neighbors who opposed the development in 2013 had testified that they preferred commercial development on the site rather than high-rise apartment buildings, which is why he was supporting the changes.
But several nearby residents, who have had to weigh in on a series of development plans for the property since the late 1990s, said they still have concerns with the project.
Tom Kearney, who said he lived east of the property, questioned the need for additional apartments or retail space after a series of other complexes have been approved or begun construction nearby and there are numerous vacant storefronts. Kearney suggested redesigning the space to accommodate a smaller mix of townhomes and villas, which he said would guarantee higher quality of construction and tenants.
He added that not knowing what kind of businesses will go into the property makes the neighborhood anxious.
“What we don’t want is a 24-7 type of thing going in there,” he said.
Angela Broockerd said she worried that the commercial development would make traffic in the area worse, especially if fast-food restaurants or other drive-thru businesses open in one of the buildings.
“I feel this is a nice area, and this doesn’t feel like an improvement to the area,” Broockerd said.
The developers, at the behest of the commission, performed a traffic study that indicated the commercial project will not affect traffic, especially after the developer and the city make improvements to 119th Street. City staff added that adding a drive-thru restaurant to the site likely would require additional scrutiny by the planning commission.
Other neighbors raised concerns about a series of sidewalks that would connect the commercial and apartment complexes to Shannon Lane and Greenwood Street that they said could become conduits for motorcycles or other traffic, which would make them fear for their children’s safety.
Commissioners said they felt the developers have worked to address many of the neighborhood’s concerns and that much of the apartment project that separates the residential areas from the retail project remains unchanged.
“Overall, I think the project has been well-vetted,” Commissioner Ryan Freeman said. “I think that it’s a significant investment in the city.”
David Twiddy: email@example.com