Residents call it a small high-rise.
Brad Vince calls it a necessity.
Some Overland Park homeowners are furious about proposal to add a fourth floor to a three-story building under construction at Vince & Associates Clinical Research Inc., near 101st Street and Metcalf Avenue.
The fourth floor would peer over trees and into the backyards and back windows of their adjacent homes, they say.
Worried that the large building would invade their privacy and lower their property values, the residents are appealing to the city council to vote against the height increase at its meeting Monday.
Vince, CEO and medical director of the company, made the request for the modification to the city a month ago, halting construction on his $5 million project until permission is granted.
The new building will feature medical and surgical suites to conduct specialized clinical trial procedures, as well as house research suites for volunteers participating in overnight clinical trials. It will also have a new pharmacy.
As his company rapidly grows, he said, it recently became apparent a fourth floor would be needed for additional office space, increasing the total square footage of the building from 15,000 square feet to 20,000.
After the city’s planning commission approved his request for a fourth floor on Oct. 13, he’s one step closer to sealing the deal.
But nearby residents aren’t in favor.
Together, neighbors in the Pinehurst East subdivision have collected signatures for a protest petition. If validated, it will require 10 out of 12 votes from the city council for the request to pass.
“They have a little bitty piece of land next to a neighborhood where people have been living for 30-plus years and they want to put a large building there,” said Scott Paxton, who lives nearby. “It’s ridiculous.”
Paxton and his neighbors approved of the building when it was first set to be two stories in May 2013. They didn’t even protest when it became three stories.
But enough is enough, they say.
“I’m scared they’re going to come back to the city for seven, eight or nine stories one day,” said Paxton’s wife, Aysun.
In addition to the possible fourth floor, residents have other issues with the clinical research campus.
Bright lights seep through the trees at night and loud noise echoes across the creek into their homes. Plus, traffic on their street, Oakridge Drive, has drastically increased in the past year, as Vince & Associate employees cut through their neighborhood in search of 103rd Street.
To address their problems, Vince and his architect met with residents at the campus on Thursday evening.
He assured them the fourth floor of his new building will be 100 percent office space.
“There won’t be additional beds there or anything,” he said. “The employees will be on that floor during daytime business hours.”
To ease the lighting and noise issues, Vince and his architect agreed to make changes.
They are adding fencing, more landscaping and an enclosed sun room to the plan. They are also changing the generator time and adding a muffler to it.
The changes will cost him an upwards of $250,000, Vince said.
He also sent an e-mail out to his employees, requesting them not to cut through the surrounding neighborhoods when leaving the premises.
“Our presence in the community — especially in this neighborhood — is important,” he said. “I want the neighbors to be happy.”
Despite the changes, residents remain disappointed Vince won’t budge on giving up his fourth floor.
“I know he’s looking out for his business and they’re experiencing a lot of growth right now, but it is frustrating,” said Carole Brandt, who lives right behind the facility. “Right now, we’re just agreeing to disagree.”
The fourth floor is vital to his campus, because it will bring all his employees together, Vince said.
His company has its finance and business development offices near 89th Street and Metcalf Avenue.
The fourth floor would allow for those offices to shut down and put everyone in one place.
“It’s simply not efficient having people drive back and forth, up and down Metcalf,” Vince said. “It’s important that our staff is all together on the same campus.”
His four-story building would fit right in with the city’s Vision Metcalf plan, which calls for taller buildings along the busy corridor, he said.
So now it’s up to the city.
In addition to the protest petition, Brandt and her neighbors are emailing city council members, urging them to reject the modification. They also hope city council members will drive by their homes to see how the four stories will look from their backyards.
“There’s no way the trees will hide that building,” Brandt said. “No way in the world.”
The issue is scheduled for a vote at the next city council meeting, at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Overland Park City Hall.