After more than a year of city meetings and vocal opposition from hundreds of residents, Overland Park has denied a mixed-use development that was intended to replace the Brookridge Golf and Fitness Club near Interstate 435 and Antioch Road.
But the saga isn’t over.
At its meeting Monday night, the Overland Park City Council voted 10-1 to deny the project, but added two stipulations to that landmark decision. The first waives the city’s six-month waiting period for the developer, Chris Curtin, to file a new plan. The second waives the fee normally required for filing a new plan.
“This isn’t going away,” Councilman Terry Goodman told the audience, which was filled with dozens of residents opposing the project. “Tonight isn’t the end of it.”
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Grant Curtin, a development associate with Curtin Property Company, confirmed to The Star that the development team plans to refile a new or revised plan.
Knowing that another plan looms ahead frustrated several residents who see the council’s denial as a short-term victory.
They say the 5 million-square-foot project, which was set to feature shopping, apartments and office space, was far too dense for the area.
At numerous city meetings in the past year, they also have expressed concern that the project will heavily increase traffic, drastically lower property values, and create issues with storm water.
“I’m happy they denied the plan, but I’m disappointed they approved the two stipulations,” said Karen Korinke, who lives near the site. “Unfortunately, he (Curtin) is just going to come back in a couple months with some small changes and we’re going to have to deal with this all over again.”
Glenn Person, who lives across 103rd Street from the site, agreed the council’s denial wasn’t very comforting. As someone who has lived in the area for more than 40 years, he longs to see Brookridge remain a golf course or become a park.
“This is the only green space of this size we have north of I-435 and now we’re going to destroy it,” Person said. “This type of project needs to move to down south.”
Some members of the governing body don’t agree.
Goodman was one of several council members who was in favor of the project. At past meetings, he has said the project could revitalize the northern part of the city.
But because of a valid protest petition filed by residents, a supermajority vote of the council was required to pass the item.
Mayor Carl Gerlach and Councilman John Skubal recused themselves because of conflicts of interest.
Therefore, the item needed 10 out of 11 votes to pass.
Councilmen David White and Jim Kite both stated at the meeting they opposed the project, however, because they felt the massive mixed use development was out of character with the neighborhood, which heavily consists of single-family homes.
Because there clearly wasn’t going to be a supermajority vote — and to prevent the project from going back to the Planning Commission for a fifth time — the council voted to deny it.
Although the vote didn’t go the way the development team hoped, Grant Curtin remained optimistic.
“I’m glad there are some councilmembers who have the desire to move forward,” he told The Star after the meeting. “Now we’re going to take a look at what needs to be done and go from there.”
The past year has been tumultuous for both the development team and the residents who live near Brookridge.
Nearly since Curtin Property Co. purchased the land in September 2014, it has received a backlash from neighbors in the Brookridge area. But the development team has tried to reach out to neighbors by holding several meetings with them.
Based on feedback from the city and residents, Curtin made more than 250 changes to the project and drastically reduced its scale over the past several months.
The current plan, which the council denied this week, would have created an upscale urban village featuring more than 2,000 residential units, 1.95 million square feet of office space, plus retail, a movie theater, a 3,500-seat indoor performance venue and a 550-room hotel.
It also was to feature a park of more than 45 acres.
Curtin was also intent on linking the nine-hole golf course on the west side of Antioch Road with nine of the larger number holes of golf on the east side, creating an improved and upgraded 18 holes.
But now that the plan has been denied, that may change.
“If the current proposed plan is not approved by the Overland Park City Council, the Club will very sadly be forced to cease golf operations at the West 9 golf course this year,” Grant Curtin said in an e-mail to The Star on March 11. “In that situation, full golf operations and maintenance attention will be focused on the 18 holes of golf at the main facility on the East side of Antioch which would remain open.”
In a March 9 letter to Wycliff Home Owners Association president Jim Hollingsworth, Chris Curtin repeated that sentiment, adding, “We have been contacted by residential developers with a non-golf interest in the West Nine. If our zoning does not advance, it is our intent to keep our best 18 holes of the Main Course and sell off the West Nine land, which is zoned residential and is extremely well-located for new residential development.”
The letter infuriated several Wycliff residents, such as Korinke. She hopes it’s not true because she considers the west nine holes to be her neighborhood’s greatest asset.
“We’re not backing down,” she said. “I think there will be more and more disapproval for this project until he (Curtin) finally makes some big changes.”
The council, however, would just like to see both sides get along better. After all, Council President Paul Lyons noted, the project could positively affect the entire city.
“I'm disappointed we didn’t have enough votes to approve it,” he said. “I think this project is important to Overland Park. We need it to maintain vitality and provide amenities in this part of town that are attractive to people.”