It’s being promoted as Johnson County’s future millennial hot spot, and over the weekend, the public was offered a sneak peak of the anticipated plan.
On Saturday afternoon, dozens of residents showed up at a public meeting to ask questions, voice concerns and hear details about a $2.4 billion mixed-use project intended for the former location of Brookridge Golf & Fitness at Interstate 435 and Antioch Road in Overland Park.
Curtin Property Co. wants to turn the 200-plus acres into a mixed-use urban-style development of office, retail, hotel and living space surrounding a park with a lake and a bridge modeled after iconic Venice bridges. It could include a state-of-the-art indoor performance venue seating around 3,000 people.
The layout is intended to create the social lifestyle millennials crave, said Chris Curtin, chief executive officer, during the meeting, which was held at the Brookridge clubhouse.
“These are your children and grandchildren we’re talking about,” he told the residents in attendance, many of whom were empty-nesters from surrounding neighborhoods. “Companies are eagerly seeking college graduates and these young people want a different kind of place to live. We don’t have that in Johnson County yet.”
Many of the questions and concerns raised by residents were about traffic and construction.
The project will include two entrances with signals from Antioch and an entrance with a signal from 103rd Street, said Brad Burton, civil engineer with George Butler Associates.
He worked with the city on a traffic study and came to the conclusion that Antioch is currently close to capacity. To ease the future increase in traffic, a northbound and southbound lane would be added to Antioch in front of the project. A center turn lane would also be added to 103rd Street in front of the project.
Burton pointed out that those working on the project were just as concerned with traffic as the residents.
“Without the traffic working, this project doesn’t succeed,” he said.
Addressing questions about construction, Curtin said the project would be built over 20 years.
Construction will start with a retail village in the first phase, which will include residential, retail, food and beverage, entertainment and office space.
Curtin emphasized to residents that the project is not about paving paradise to put up a parking lot. To create a walkable environment, parking will be almost entirely handled in structured parking throughout the plan.
There will also be a signature park along Indian Creek and through the middle of the site, which will help account for 50 percent green space within the project.
The park will be phased in as construction moves from west to east, said Grant Curtin of Curtin Property Co.
He also said that nine holes of golf will remain on the east side of the property throughout the first phase and on the west side of Antioch for the life of the project. Improvements will be made to the nine holes to the west to heighten its quality of play and aesthetic appeal. In the interim, the nine holes on the east remaining through phase one will be linked to the west nine to enable 18-hole play.
The course will continue to operate as a private club with memberships available to individuals and families, as well as corporate memberships available to tenants in the project, such as hotels and office users.
After the presentation and a question-and-answer session, many residents were still skeptical.
“There is a level of uncertainty among us, because we don’t know just how everything is going to affect us,” said Charles Hornback, an Overland Park resident who lives near the site. “That’s really what’s bothering everybody.”
Other residents, such as Monalee Smith, were worried the project will fall flat, like the development intended for the former Mission Mall site to the north in Mission.
“There’s just a big pile of dirt sitting there,” she said. “If anything, I would just like to have some assurance from the developer that the project won’t be left half-finished. It’s such a beautiful piece of land and I would hate for it to turn ugly.”
Councilman Jim Kite, who represents Ward Three, was more optimistic.
“Over the last few years, all the big development has been sprawled south,” he said. “So, this project is a big boost for the north. To see this many invested dollars into an original part of Overland Park is very exciting.”
Curtin agrees. The native Kansan sees the site as the hottest piece of real estate in Johnson County, because it is the last large tract between U.S. 69 and State Line Road.
With its easy access to the interstate and proximity to Corporate Woods, he said, it’s a desirable location for office space.
Plus, around 150,000 cars pass the site every day, he said, making it a viable location in general.
And while some residents have criticized his timing colliding with another major mixed use project currently intended for 95th Street and Metcalf Avenue, Curtin thinks there is room for both.
“I’m glad that project is happening because it will help make the north a better place,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for Overland Park.”
While details of the plan were revealed to the public, his development team wants residents to realize that nothing is set in stone.
“It’s important to note that we are in the very early stages of this project and we fully expect the plan to evolve and change based on input from neighbors, city leaders and the community,” said Grant Curtin. “It was great to see so much interest at the listening sessions over the past few days and we’ll continue those conversations moving forward.”
When the plan is finalized, it will go before the city’s Planning Commission and if approved, go before the city council.
Curtin Property Co. is seeking about $610 million in public funding, which includes a Community Improvement District, state STAR bonds, a tax-increment financing district and $27 million in cash from the city of Overland Park’s general fund between 2015 and 2017 for land and infrastructure, according to city documents.
And while Curtin knows his plan won’t make every single person happy, he’s hoping it will make Overland Park proud.
“Change is hard, but at the end of the day, you can’t quit changing a community,” he said. “Because that’s how a city grows.”