A proposal to use public financing to build a hotel in the Corbin Park shopping center in south Overland Park was shot down by city leaders with little discussion Monday night.
The council unanimously rejected a plan by developer Mike Schlup that asked to use money from special taxing districts to pay for a new hotel behind the Von Maur store at the center near 135th Street and Metcalf Avenue.
Schlup, of Aspen Square Inc., said in a letter to the city that although the center has rebounded from a low point in 2010, finding tenants for the southern part of the development, behind Von Maur, has remained be difficult.
A hotel would create interest in that area and perhaps become the “initial domino” in getting retail into an area that has little visibility from 135th Street, Schlup wrote.
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He proposed that money from the transportation development district and community improvement district be restructured into a bond that would make about $50 million available to pay existing obligations such as the incentive for the Scheels sporting goods store as well as about $14 million for the hotel project.
Corbin Park has bounced back strongly since 2010, when its former owner declared bankruptcy, Schlup said. At that time, the Von Maur and J.C. Penney were the only stores built. Since it was obtained by Aspen, the tenant list has grown to include Scheels, Crowley Furniture, Sprouts Farmer’s Market and Spin Pizza, with a Dave and Busters among tenants on the way, he said.
The public financing is necessary because the hotels interested in the site can’t get loans to build on land they don’t own, and Aspen wants to keep Corbin Park from becoming segmented among many owners, Schlup said. He said the arrangement would benefit the city by bringing in new tax dollars and reducing the city’s obligation to the developer.
The city’s finance, administration and economic development committee — made up of six council members — thought otherwise. Its members recommended denial of the request. Chairman Terry Goodman said the committee disliked converting a pay-as-you-go plan to a bond for several reasons.
For example, the lenders that declined to finance the hotel were unreasonable, he said, and the hotel didn’t provide enough benefit to the city to justify changing the arrangement, which could put the city’s bond rating at risk. The committee also was reluctant to provide any incentives to build a competing hotel to the Sheraton, he added.
The council affirmed the committee’s decision without further discussion.
Also at the meeting, the council tangled briefly over continuation of a bicycle master plan that has been ongoing since 2015.
The council voted to continue to marking bike lanes or shared lanes for about 30 miles of streets in northern Overland Park next year. The projects include the downtown area plus some other roads planned for chip-sealing.
Next year’s projects will use about $325,000, with $240,000 from federal air quality money and $85,000 from the city and state. The city’s portion would be about $60,000. However some council members objected because future maintenance of the lane stripes and bike symbols would be the responsibility of the city budget. The striping costs about $10,000 per mile.
Goodman said that is too much money to spend on something where the environmental impact and lessening of traffic congestion is negligible. “Very, very, very seldom do I see someone using a bike lane,” since they’ve been installed, he said.
Others asked whether automobile drivers would be ticketed if they drove in the lane when no bicyclists were present. The lanes reduce the width of pavement available to cars, said council member Dan Stock, who worried that drivers would be forced into the bike lanes when streets were narrow and then would get tickets.
“It’s a different experience,” Stock said. “It’s not as convenient for automobiles with bike lanes on the side of the road.”
The council voted 9-3 to continue the striping program next year, with Goodman, David White and Dave Janson voting against it.
As part of the master plan, the council got a report on bike usage and safety. A bike counting system was used for the first time last year. Counts taken at 25 locations put the first year total weekly bicycle usage at 3,040. The city will continue to count bike riders to see how the bike lanes might be affecting ridership in the city.